DEAR ABBY: I have practiced law for 40 years as a trial lawyer and counselor, and have served as a mediator for more than 1,000 cases in the last seven years. In my role as a peacemaker and advocate of conflict avoidance, I have reached certain conclusions that might help your readers:
1. Learn to disagree without being disagreeable. It's all right to be assertive, but not aggressive, abusive or abrasive.
2. When someone says something with which you disagree, try not to be judgmental.
3. Maintain eye contact when greeting people, and shake their hands. (Touching is important.)
4. Be kind and courteous to everyone.
5. Remember that civility is a sign of strength, not weakness.
6. Speak softly. (People tune out loud, angry voices.)
7. Saving face is important. Give your opponent the opportunity to withdraw.
8. Your attitude is more important than your aptitude.
9. Mutual respect is the key to avoiding conflict.
10. Give the other person a chance to be heard without interrupting.
11. The shortest distance between two people is a smile. -- PETER S. CHANTILIS, ATTORNEY-MEDIATOR, DALLAS
DEAR PETER: Your suggestions are excellent. (My favorites are Nos. 7 and 11.)