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1) Know that all conflict exists in our stories of the past about what happened to us and what we made it mean. To drag these stories into the present moment only causes us to re-live them. Remind those caught in conflict of this fact.

2) Step back from your own story and separate what happened from what you made it mean. Take a blank sheet of paper and on the left side right down what happened, just the facts. On the right side write down what you made it mean. Speculate on what others might have made it mean. Explore these interpretations and judgements for the source of your conflicts.

3) Shift from a debate about right or wrong, fault or blame to a dialogue that shares your stories about what is really most important. This is about understanding, not about being right. Here’s a great first question to start the conversation: “Please help me understand how this has impacted you”? Then listen carefully for what happened and what they made it mean.

Your questions and comments are welcome and appreciated.

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David Gould (LLB, QC, C Med) has helped hundreds of lawyers and their clients – business and government organizations, and individuals – in conflict situations to co-create solutions for the future. For more information, contact: or visit

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