Office of the Ombudsman

Confidential - Neutral - Independent - Informal


Art of Persuasion


Persuasion and influence are key ingredients to building trusted working relationships as well as disrupting potential unproductive conflicts. In a recent article for the Harvard Business Review, Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist, talks about persuading the unpersuadable. He shares tips and strategies for influencing in four common scenarios: overconfidence, stubbornness, narcissism, and disagreeableness.


Humans are wired to tell stories.  It’s how we learn and problem-solve.  How we adapt, how we reinforce social rules, and how we create community.  And also how we get things wrong.  This is particularly true when it comes to our conflict stories. 

Difficult Conversations: The "Identity Conversation" (#4 of 4)


Conversations can be difficult because the underlying situation being discussed threatens our identity, or sense of self, in some way. We have a view of who we are, and we react strongly when we believe our identity has been attacked. Identity conversations can be painful because they force us to consider possible discrepancies between the way we see ourselves and the way others see us.

Difficult Conversations: Changing the "Feelings Conversation" (#3 of 4)

Feelings Conversation

As Stone, Patton and Heen wrote in Difficult Conversations: How To Discuss What Matters Most, conversations can be difficult for us to have for a variety of reasons. Often the difficulty springs from the fact that the matter being discussed provokes deep or intense feelings we do not know how to deal with.

Difficult Conversations: Changing the "What Happened?" Conversation (#2 of 4)

Difficult Conversations

When we have a “What Happened” conversation we are usually operating with an assumption that we know all the facts that led to the problem. We may make assumptions about the other individual’s motives or actions. We may assign blame. Or we may want a definitive declaration from that the other person that he or she is in the wrong.

Difficult Conversations: The "What Happened?" Conversation (#1 of 4)

Difficult Conversations

All of us have been involved in difficult conversations. Difficult conversations are often conversations where emotions are high, or where we feel vulnerable or unheard. There are many definitions of a difficult conversation, but the bottom line is that these are conversations which we dread having and find unpleasant.

Emotional Intelligence: moving through conflict moments with strategy and purpose

In a recent article for the Harvard Business Review, Daniel Goleman shared the continuing importance of emotional intelligence at work and what we often get wrong about what emotional intelligence means. 

Ombuds? What's that?

What is Ombuds?

Communication and Conflict in a Virtual World

Welcome to the first post of the NIH Center for Cooperative Resolution, Office of the Ombudsman Blog. The past few months have challenged us in ways we could not have anticipated and have revealed persistent, systemic inequities. These difficult times also have reinforced the importance of communication and connection, which led to our launch of this blog. Our office has chosen to start our blog with a seemingly small aspect of communication in a virtual world because it is often a small thing that can make a big difference.