Kira Nurieli is an Organizational Psychologist, Mediator, Conflict Coach, Facilitator and Speaker. As CEO of the Harmony Strategies Group, she and her team help leaders with Conflict & Communication Strategies. Her proprietary trainings and coaching products invite participants into new ways of understanding interpersonal relationships, human capital, organizational culture, diversity and inclusion, and related topics. You can catch her Conflict Coaching clips on Youtube, follow her on LinkedIn, and visit the Harmony Strategies Group website.
1.You are the founder of the Harmony Strategies Group, a cooperative of conflict management professionals who provide clients with effective communication strategies and conflict management solutions. Can you tell us a little bit about what sets Harmony Strategies Group apart from other conflict resolution firms?
Harmony Strategies Group is a unique collective of mediators who are dedicated to helping leaders develop better conflict management and communication skills. I’m actually not aware of any similar collective of mediators doing this. Most mediators are attorney/mediators and specialize in certain types of disputes, where they focus mainly on the legal/business side of the disagreement. We are unique in that our approach to conflict comes from a psycho-social and anthropological, rather than legal, perspective.
Our aim is to empower leaders with skills, not just resolve a specific dispute. We want to teach our clients so that they will have the ability to effectively handle their challenges rather than lose employees, break up relationships, or need to turn to litigation when the situation turns sour. And we define “leaders” quite broadly: from executives in the boardroom to schoolteachers in the classroom, and from politicians to parents. Anyone tasked with handling problems, differences, and misunderstandings stands to gain from our services. We know that this builds better businesses, better schools, and better societies overall.
2. In your coaching practice, what is the most common barrier preventing effective communication and cooperation between individuals and groups?
In my coaching practice the most common barrier preventing effective communication and cooperation between individuals and groups is the lack of listening skills. People are quick to finish sentences and jump to conclusions—it’s how we’re wired. We make assumptions about what the other side “means”, and often sabotage the situation when a win-win opportunity could have been explored. In fact, that’s one of the key biases I discuss in my trainings: the Zero-Sum bias that we have. We naturally assume in conflict that someone needs to lose, but that’s not always the case. By listening closely, we can explore win-win options. But that will only happen when both sides listen for the cooperative options. That takes time, effort, and skill. As a coach, I fill in where my clients are lacking in those skills—I help them think more broadly and explore what they haven’t seen or heard. Often, solutions are more straightforward and less costly and stressful than they expected.
3. What is the one piece of advice you would give our readers to enjoy a little less conflict in their daily lives?
The question implies that we can quantify conflict, which we cannot. What is “less” or “more” conflict? Is it about the amount of disputes we face, or the intensity of the problem? Is it easier to handle one massive conflict or many less important ones? Having said that, the most important skill in handling conflicts well is the ability to remove emotional attachment. We all feel emotional when in conflict. But the less the emotional pull, the more liberated we are to make choices that are pro-active and growth-oriented, rather than reactive and fear-oriented. This is why the vast majority of my clients experience breakthroughs when I help them with their emotional blind-spots. They suddenly find themselves worrying less and able to strategize more, ultimately creating innovative solutions and enjoying more peace-of-mind in the process.