The Third Side

I’d been struggling with a situation for a while, trying to get straight answers from two different people who were not working the same timeline that I was. There was a lot of my time, money and effort on the line. They were the decision makers….and I didn’t trust that they had my back. I was frustrated. Then I got scared. Then I got mad. Crazy mad. Screaming obscenities and punching my pillow mad!

It was the fear plus the feeling of powerlessness that enraged me! I went from being calm, polite and patient in my interactions with them, to wanting to throw things and hit things and …. you get the picture.

That’s when I called Doug. He became my perfect Third Side.

International Conflict Negotiator William Ury insists that the power to bring about peace in a world filled with conflict lies in the hands of what he calls “The Third Side”. In every conflict there are three sides: yours, mine and everyone else’s. It’s ‘everyone else’, the community around the people in conflict, that Ury calls The Third Side. They (we) play a vital role in de-escalating conflict, mostly through skillful listening and redirecting.

In my story, Doug did exactly that. He Reflected, Empathized, Validated and then Redirected me. In less than two minutes I was calmer and clearer on what to do next….and the world was a safer place.

How well do you do as someone’s Third Side? When your spouse is upset, or your child is having a meltdown, or an employee is surly, or a client is frustrated …do you know how to connect and redirect?

If you want to be better at it please join me for one of my Catalytic Conversations programs, or schedule a time to chat with me. A little instruction can go a long way in improving one’s personal and professional interactions!


Jolina Karen is a Behaviorist who guides men and women to be the best leaders, parents, partners and influencers they can be. She combines Psychology, Physiology, Behavioral Kinesiology and The Demartini Method ™ to coach her clients into more satisfying relationships at work and home.

Learn more at or call (970) 389-4513