Resolution Institute conference

Spotlight on practice

16–17 October 2019, Wellington NZ

Positive framing, reframing and questioning – defining the labels and the art of doing

with Bruce Cottrill

Just as parties to a dispute do, as mediators and dispute resolvers we have choices about how we present our own dominant narratives. Theirs are about conflict, ours about the resolving and restorative process and how it works. We can choose to inoculate the parties in a positive and empowering way – or not. We can be confident and professional – or not. We can be instructive or persuasive.

So we choose how we wish to frame the dispute resolution process, just as they choose how to frame their conflict. And we choose how we wish to frame ourselves. It is fundamental to a successful process.

We also reframe; despair and anguish into hope and optimism. Subjectivity into objectivity, and positions into aspirations. Negatives into positives.

We can create powerful and useful questions when none seem available.

This interactive and experiential workshop will explore the theoretical underpinnings and practice of creating positive frames, reframing peoples’ negative or unhelpful frames, and will reveal some useful strategies and skills for exploring below the surface of the stories that people wish to present.


Bruce Cottrill has been a dispute resolver for 30 years. His practice has been broad and varied. He is a well-regarded and experienced teacher, trainer, coach, consultant and practitioner of dispute resolution. He has undertaken many multi-party high profile public and private mediations, as well as conducting numerous independent employment related investigations. His professional background also includes change management, accident prevention consulting to ACC, disaster event recovery and farming on his own account.

Bruce lectured in Dispute Resolution at Massey University for 18 years. He has a Masters in Conflict Management from La Trobe University as well as dispute resolution, industrial relations and business studies graduate and post graduate diplomas from Massey and Victoria Universities.