We have moved.

I have taken a strategic decision to centralise my various topics and blogs into one main hub.  You can find that, with blog included, over at http://www.neildenny.com

I hope that you will join me there.



Conflict Slam #1 – How do I ask my brother to pay his way?

Our first Conflict Slam is about a difficult conversation that one reader has to have.  Here is their situation;

How do I ask an older brother for help with costs towards Christmas dinner without causing rifts?  I don’t want to get emotional about it but he’s never cooked us a dinner in his life and has never offered to help with costs at Christmas.  I’m well aware that this is the sort of thing I probably shouldn’t bring up… but as he’s single and lives at home it irks.  So yeah… since I missed your webinar, and have just bought all the food and seen the bill… :-p Any advice would be grand   -Please note I will change names and details below to preserve anonymity

There are a number of ways that this can go. Continue reading ‘Conflict Slam #1 – How do I ask my brother to pay his way?’

Introducing Conflict Slam

I’m excited.

I’ve got some neat plans for transforming conflict into growth in 2014 in homes, organisations and communities.  These plans will involve giving direct tailored answers to individuals with specific conflict problems.

Welcome to Conflict Slam. Continue reading ‘Introducing Conflict Slam’

How to avoid arguments with your family this Christmas

sample pic from family arguments webinar

This evening we will be running and recording a free webinar on how to avoid family arguments this Christmas.  The picture above is one of the slides from it.

If you would like to join us then you can register at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7452202096142927361

See you there and a Merry Christmas to you all.

Savile, Messham, Newsnight, McAlpine, Watson and You; Of victims, villains and rescuers.

Victims, villains and rescuers.

Hard to keep track of who is who, isn’t it?

Let’s start with Savile.

Savile with his now odious “Jim’ll fix it for you” thing.  Rescuer. Yay.

Savile as alleged serial abuser.  Villain. Boo.

Next up.  Newsnight.

Newsnight originally fail to air “Unsubstantiated” Savile report.  Villain. Boo.

Newsnight subsequently air Messham’s shocking and shockingly unsubtantiated allegations. Rescuer. Yay.

Newsnight subsequently lambasted for doing so. Villain. Boo.


Messham as a boy. Victim.

Messham goes to the press to reveal scandal. (Self) rescuer. Yay.

Messham reveals he got the wrong man. Reckless villain? Boo.

But hang on, he was shown a picture he was told it was McAlpine.  Was he misled?  Was it deliberate?  Victim?

Exploited by Newsnight?  Victim.

Lord McAlpine

(Depending on your politics here.)

Key Tory within the Thatcher government. Villain. Boo or Rescuer. Yay. Your mileage may vary.

Lord McAlpine as alleged abuser. Villain.  Boo.

Forced to instruct defamation lawyers for malicious or reckless defamation. Victim.

If he pursues everybody on the internet who commented or referred to links?  Then what will he become?  Victim or villain?


Bravely reveals paedophile allegations and potential cover-up in Prime Minister’s Question Time and on his blog.  Heroic Rescuer.  Big online Yay.

Shadowy comments of threats against his safety also mentioned on his blog?  Heroic victim.

Allegations of gullibilty, not following due dilligence and protocols, impetuousness, clumsiness, naivity, hysteria and, now, seemingly, not commenting. Villain. Boo.


Supporting Tom’s bravery and courage, ? Co-rescuer. Yay.

Spreading the word via tweets and links? Rescuer. Yay.

Shown to be wrong and reckless?  Villain. Boo.

Sued by McAlpine and his defamation lawyers?  Will you be victim or villain?


These victim, villain, resuer stories, eh?  They are so complex but utterly compelling.  The simplistic logic they present us with can be very seductive and so transient.

Looks like Karpman had a point. Or three.

See Karpman’s Drama Triangle


And now a disclaimer:  Dear Lawyers.  There is no explicit or implied allegation against any party in this piece.  Quite the contrary, there is only an assertion that such allegations of rescuer, villainy or victim are notoriously unreliable.





The #1 dispute resolution lesson from the USA elections.

I want to write very briefly about the USA elections, the number 1 lesson we can learn from it and run a  quick competition to enable you to win two copies of my book… scroll to the bottom for the competition.

First though, here is that #1 conflict resolution lesson that I promised you in the title.

I hope you are ready for it. This is going to rock your world.

Next time you have a debate, an argument or a difficult conversation think back to the last few weeks.

See Obama?

See Romney?

Don’t do that.

Here endeth the lesson.

Competition time

I wrote a book called Conversational Riffs; Creating Meaning out of Conflict.  You can buy it here.  It sets out an alternative to the attack-defence-counter attack rut that so many of us get stuck in when we try to deal with debates or conflicts.  It is the antithesis of what has been played out before us in debates, campaigning and attack ads over the last couple of months.

To win, simply answer this question;

What has the USA Election taught you about conflict and debate?

Post your answer in the comments and the one that I like most at 5pm GMT Friday 9th November will win two copies of Conversational Riffs; Creating Meaning Out Of Conflict, in plenty of time for you to start planning your own Electoral campaign ready for 2016!

Why it is difficult to receive an apology.

On Friday I was consumed by righteous indignation and disgust at a comment that a lawyer I know on social media platforms had written.  I told him so and “Unfollowed.”

On Sunday evening, he apologised to me directly, on Twitter.

I was surprised by this apology and challenged as well.  It occurred to me that the recipients of apologies often are.

  • What do I now do with this apology?
  • How does it reposition the offender in my eyes?
  • What responsibility to re-evaluate does the apology now place at my feet?  Am I prepared to pick up that responsibility, and if I do, what do I then do with it?

Part of me was still angry, wanted to dismiss this apology, reduce it down to a nothingness, to a mere “Oh, he would say that wouldn’t he?” and another part of me was reacting very differently.  It was hard to understand what that other part was feeling and then I realised that it was compassion… but that means that I have got work to do now, and I was quite comfortable in my cartoon world of heroes and villains.

This apology was incredibly effective because it had no whiff of self preservation, distancing or making the offence abstract or conditional.  It was unequivocal.  It read, very simply;

U r so right and I am dreadfully sorry.

What was I going to do with that?

No response would have been the easiest thing.  Responding rejecting his apology was also a choice I had.

I went instead with what I was feeling and responded warmly;

I appreciate your guts in that ######. Good on you and I hope the incident passes. Keep well.

And I am so glad I did.

Sometimes it is easier to hold onto the demonised caricatures that we are quick to sketch out in a flashing judgment, but this straightforward apology cut through that.

We subsequently spoke on the phone.  He told me of the horror he felt at the awful moment he realised how his twitter comment looked.  When he spoke it was clear that he felt deep anguish and shame about what had happened and in that moment he was incredibly, unbearably human;  a man, as imperfect as you or I, trying to get through life, living honestly, honourably, without hurting others or causing offence and being truly shocked to realise that they have not only been capable of doing so but actually had done so.

He was as fallible as we all are and in our conversation I realised that in his error and faults I saw my own fears, some of my own past mistakes and those that doubtlessly lie ahead in my future.

“Oh Lord, that I might ever be capable of getting it so spectacularly wrong myself. ”

That is a vulnerability that I would rather not admit to feeling and, within my righteous indignation, in my denegration of this man and my assumptions about his motives, thoughts and character, maybe what we do in part is try to calm our own fears, that we might ever fall into a similar hole.  It is far easier to reassure ourselves by demonising “Them” and therefore distancing them from us, making them different and not at all like you or me.

A few points therefore;

  • A clear, unequivocal apology can quickly cut through the demonisation.
  • When we receive an apology such as this, whether we had asked for it or not, we have a responsibility to handle it with respect and courtesy.
  • When we do that then we join the apologist in a kind of redemption – not only of their misdemeanour but also our own rush of condemnation… and when we do that then maybe we learn a little more about ourselves as well as learning a whole lot about them.


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