Community & Government

Mediating Conflict

Bill Clinton

Lesson time 10:55 min

President Clinton explains how he facilitates the peaceful resolution of conflict between bitterly opposed factions. He also explains how the tactics he uses can be applied in your daily life.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Communicate Authentic Understanding · Demonstrate That You Have Their Best Interest in Mind · In the End, It’s Their Peace to Claim


- You should be focusing on conflict mediation because conflicts are a part of life, and a lot of people try to hide them and bury them, which only makes them more important in reaching the best possible outcome. It's not just people you manage, it's the people you work with, people in your family, people who have a problem with each other that if they don't solve it, you can't maximize whatever it is you're doing. And I always thought that conflict mediation was in many ways the hardest thing in the world to do because there is something inside of the parties in conflict that longs to have it resolved and something inside them that's terrified of having it resolved. So it's easy to avoid. And I've done that too. It rarely works. When it comes to mediating conflict between deeply divided parties, it is very important not only to know what both sides want, but to understand who they are, what makes them tick. What do they feel most strongly about? What are their hopes, and dreams, and nightmares? If you don't do that, then you'll make a mistake. And the mistake will be interpreted as either ignorance-- what is this person doing here-- or they're not really for me. It's not as simple as showing your sympathy for both sides or explaining your understanding of it. The first thing you have to do is to say there's a problem here. And the problem affects all the people you represent in this company, in this family, and this enterprise, whatever. And it affects me too. I'm pained by it. I'd like to help resolve it. But I think we have to begin by letting you state your case. And you need to let them talk to you because it's easier than talking to the other person. But if you can do it in their presence, so much the better. Maybe you can't the first time. The first time, you have to meet with the parties separately. But you have to let them say, here's my case. Here's what I think. And here's what I feel. Then at the first opportunity when you have the parties together, it's very important for them to hear you say, you know, X feels this way and believes it this way. And Y sees it entirely different in this way. And it's very reassuring to them to know that these negotiations are being steered by someone who actually understands precisely what you think. Then as you build up trust, you can usually, when the parties are not together, and later when they are, you can disagree with them because they know you're coming from a place of wishing them well and you want it resolved. You have to see this every step of the way the way other people see it. Both sides must believe that you fully understand their position and that you really care how it comes out for their people. And then you go through it and try to resolve as many things as they're willing to. And when you get to the hard stuff, when you weigh in, people will see that you're a trusted mediator. [MUSIC PLAYING] The other tactic I always tried to employ...

About the Instructor

Commander in chief from 1993 to 2001, Bill Clinton has spent a lifetime navigating complex challenges and bridging deep divides. Now the 42nd president of the United States teaches you how to be an effective, empathetic leader. Learn how to assemble, inspire, and empower diverse teams, mediate conflict, manage criticism—and create a personal framework to guide you and your team toward a shared vision.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Bill Clinton

Drawing from his career in politics, President Bill Clinton teaches you how to inspire diverse teams, manage criticism, and mediate conflict.

Explore the Class
Sign Up