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The Inclusive Excellence Podcast: “The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war”

In this episode of the Inclusive Excellence Podcast, Erin Sember-Chase and Toral Patel are joined by Ati Alipour, assistant ombuds in the Cornell University Ombuds Office, to share insight on addressing and navigating conflicts in everyday work and life.

Alipour arrived at Cornell in 2023 with a rich history in the field of conflict resolution and mediation. She is currently a practicing lawyer and mediator with experience in dispute resolution in international organizations, academia and the workplace. Alipour previously served the United Nations as a conflict resolution and mediation consultant, assisting five UN Organizations. Now, as an assistant ombuds, Alipour is helping staff, faculty and students at Cornell work through conflicts and uncertainties that may arise.

“The best part of working in this field is that I get to see how productive it is,” Alipour said. “I see how parties become empowered and how they take the skill sets we teach along with them. There is an aspect of conflict prevention that's never measurable, but it’s how someone who would have gotten into another conflict avoided it by learning this skill set. This is exactly what I like most about what I do.”

Alipour shares the benefits of engaging in a facilitated conversation when experiencing issues or misunderstandings with another party. The Ombuds Office strives to create this safe space for Cornellians to do so.

“It’s easier to address an issue when it’s not very severe or when there aren’t multiple issues,” Alipour said. “I always say, when you see a leak in your bathroom, when do you call the plumber? The intangible feelings about conflict shouldn’t be any different from tangible issues. The sooner you address it, the easier the fix, and we can also help prevent it so it doesn’t happen in the future.”

According to Alipour, when it comes to communicating through conflict, one of the most frequent struggles individuals experience is attempting to read the minds of others.

“Not being open, not explaining your position, not asking the right questions or actively listening are all common cognitive errors I see,” Alipour said. “It’s about dialogue building and listening without expectation. When parties seriously listen to one another and explore what other points are available to meet someone at, sometimes they’ll be surprised that they can actually build a future relationship that they will both benefit from long term.”

From understanding power imbalances to embracing differing perspectives, Alipour discusses the importance of addressing conflicts before they escalate into significant issues.

“The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war,” Alipour said. “I think this is also true about conversations. If you have those little conversations when there is a peaceful relationship, it is easier than dealing with issues that have become massive.”

Tune in to Episode 80: Conflict and Conversation: “The More You Sweat in Peace, the Less You Bleed in War” to learn more about Ati’s journey and different techniques and practices to help work through conflicts with others. Visit to access the episode and transcript.

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