Deborah’s involvement with Bar Associations began when several Cincinnati lawyers decided to initiate a communication process that would allow attorneys from different racial and ethnic backgrounds to share common interests and concerns. They titled their initiative, “Food for Thought,” and they sponsored a series of living room dialogues and potluck suppers.

From there she worked with a select group of attorneys who started the Collaborative Law Institute in Cincinnati. She joined the collaborative training faculty and was a regular contributor to Ohio’s magistrates and collaborative attorney training sessions.

As a frequent speaker for the Cincinnati Bar association, Deborah noted:

“My observation is that many of today’s attorneys see the need for a variety of communication strategies to aid them in their work. My workshops allow people to explore their own communication styles, and participants have the opportunity to investigate the components of collaborative communication as one choice that can serve them in their work with colleagues and clients.”

The comments from attendees reflect that the material has been well received:

“Great overview. I would be interested in a full day workshop. I liked the interactive aspects.”

“Excellent in every aspect: presentation, materials, etc.”

“Bring her back for an all day seminar.”

“Very impressive. She motivated you without you knowing it! She had [people] captivated and interested for 3 hours and 15 minutes. No one wanted to leave!”

(Provided by Dimity Orlet, CLE Director, Cincinnati Bar Association)

A further listing of her work with lawyers includes:

  • The University of Toledo College of Law
    “Professional Communication Effectiveness”
    Toledo, OH

  • Keating Muething & Klekamp PLL
    “Professional Presentational Speaking at KMK”
    Cincinnati, OH

  • “Strategic Choices in Communication: A training workshop in communication skills and awareness”
    Presented to the attorneys of Federated Department Stores, Inc.
    Cincinnati, OH

  • The Ohio State Bar Association

    The OSBA Leadership Academy
    “Lawyers as Leaders: How Will You Lead?”
    Columbus, OH

    2008 Annual Convention
    “Building Success by Communicating Successfully”
    Columbus, OH

    2007 Annual Convention
    “Gender and Generational Communication Issues”
    Cincinnati, OH

    2006 Annual Convention
    “Gender and Generational Communication Issues”
    Akron, OH

  • The University of Cincinnati College of Law
    Center for Practice in Negotiation and Problem-Solving
    Mediation Lecture Series
    “Strategic Choices in Communication”
    Cincinnati, OH

  • Collaborative Family Law Group
    “Communication Strategies that Create a Collaborative Climate”
    Cincinnati, OH

  • The Niagara Collaborative Law Group
    “Collaborative Communication”
    Welland, Ontario

  • University of Cincinnati College of Law
    “Resolving Disputes Through Collaborative Law:
    Advanced Training in Collaborative Communication”
    Cincinnati, OH

“Communication Strategies That Create a Collaborative Climate”

Session Goals

  • To define “collaborative communication”
  • To explain and practice several tools of collaborative communication
  • To review the behaviors that lead to a confirming communication climate and a disconfirming climate
  • To learn techniques for how to respond non-defensively to criticism
  • To explore how gender and culture may affect our communication interactions
  • To investigate the nonverbal choices that can enhance a collaborative climate
  • To understand and practice “learning conversations”


  1. Communication is a choice: a discussion
  2. A definition of “collaborative communication”
  3. Our own communication styles: an assessment
  4. The importance of our non-verbal behaviors
  5. The skills of collaborative communication
    1. The validity of diverse perspectives – perception checking
      1. Gender as a perceptual influencer
      2. Culture as a perceptual influencer
    2. Listening to understand
    3. Diffusing defensiveness
      1. Understanding our own “hot buttons”
      2. Avoiding power struggles
      3. Responding non-defensively to critical remarks
    4. Engaging in “learning conversations”
  6. Conclusion and evaluation

Note: This outline reflects a full-day training session with scheduled breaks.