Interview with Hesha Abrams

Can you get excited about conflict? 

There’s an old movie from 1950 that caught my attention. It predates me, but still enchanted me. The play-turned-movie is Harvey. The main character, Elmer P. Dowd, finds people in an uproar talking about what he believes in. Elmer’s response, “Oh an element of conflict in any discussion is a very good thing. It shows everybody is taking part and nobody is left out. I like that.” 


Hesha Abrams is an attorney-turned-mediator, something she’s done for the past three decades. Her wisdom is epic and has lessons we can all learn from.


Conflict resolution has shortcuts. Mediation is about talking to work out deals. The idea of “win-win” doesn’t work because there’s all too often someone’s ego involved. There’s either fear or a desire to dominate. That never makes for an equitable win-win. Logic, reason, and rationale do not solve problems. 


Key points from this episode with Hesha Abrams: 

  • Problems are solved at an emotional level. 
  • Even economic decisions are managed emotionally
  • People might not be playing to win, but they ARE playing not to lose. (Note: think about that for your own life)
  • Some people want to be right; most people do not want to be wrong. (The embarrassment might imply being outcast and ultimately alone.)
  • Look for/listen for the power dynamic in any interaction
  • Language matters - 
    • Request permission
    • Ask if the other person would “like” what you’re offering
      • “May I share a story with you? Would you like it if I shared….”
  • Look for where it becomes okay to make a deal
  • Interrupt strategically: “Do you know what I like/respect/admire about you?”
  • Name the emotion
  • Validate
  • Turn on the give-a-darn meter

Empower by taking responsibility. Apologize. Request a “do-over.” This gives the other person the power to say yes and allows you to model a culture that you value. 


Hesha and her resources may be found at:

website: And her book: HOLDING THE CALM


LinkedIn: hesha-abrams-esq

Facebook: HeshaAbramsHoldingTheCalm

You Tube Channel:


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