Marketers tell stories, ADR professionals hear stories. This is neither a complicated nor thunderous proclamation, and it’s not meant to be. 

However, many ADR professionals building private practices, or running nonprofits, struggle to determine who their audience is, what the unique value is that they bring to the audience, and how to get that audience’s attention and trust.

The modern ADR professional must craft compelling stories about the unique value proposition that their professional—and personal—mindset, approach, services and processes provide to their target audience, in order to provide value, establish trust and generate positive attention. 

How to do that? There are three areas to consider when crafting a unique story. 


Establish empathy with the audience—ADR professionals have no trouble sitting in at the peace table and demonstrating empathy with parties in conflict. But having empathy with an invisible audience, sitting at a computer behind a blog post, a social media posting, or listening to a podcast, is difficult. So, imagine the ideal audience for the story. Imagine their thoughts, feelings, concerns and needs. 

Create stories with value for the audience—Once the ADR professional has gotten into the empathy space and imagined what an audience might need, the next step is to craft a story—or a value proposition, if you will—for the audience. 

Now, this story has to be not only about facts, but also about opinions and ideas. A value proposition is a story that combines the truth of facts with the emotions buried in opinions that focuses on an audiences’ need. 

Many ADR professionals hesitate to provide an opinion, but providing one is the only way that the target audience gets a glimpse into the mind, process and approach of the ADR professional telling the story.

Develop engagement with the audience—ADR professionals are really great at building engagement in face-to-face at the table. They do this with reverence, humor, seriousness and tenacity in the pursuit of peace that amazes even the most hardened conflict party. Using that tendency in the pursuit of engagement, empathy and with an eye toward adding value is critical to storytelling success.

A word about engagement: These days, it seems overwhelming to respond to tweets, blog commentary, emails, Facebook posts and LinkedIn comments. But, the tools that have allowed never-ending engagement, work two ways. Storytelling doesn’t stop once the blog post—or article—is written. The ADR professional, after crafting a compelling story, should think about how—and where—to distribute that story. And, decide the level, type and intensity of engagement to pursue with the target audience.

Empathy, value, and engagement; these are the three areas to build around for the modern ADR professional to craft an unbeatable a value proposition.

Questions or feedback about this? Please feel free to contact me via email or explore my blog,  The HSCT #Communication Blog, as well as take the time to talk with me via Twitter, the HSCT Facebook Page or even connect with me via LinkedIn.

By Jesan Sorrell


Jesan Sorrells is the founder, owner and principal conflict engagement consultant at Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT), a boutique, private, conflict communication and corporate training consultancy, based out of Endicott, NY. HSCT focuses on delivering Christian based, alternative dispute resolution solutions in the areas of conflict communication, conflict skills development and conflict consulting for a variety of clients, including corporations, higher education organizations and nonprofits. HSCT accomplishes this by leveraging cutting edge, pioneering and entrepreneurial resolutions to conflict, communications, social media, and organizational development for its clients through trainings, seminars, workshops and 1-on-1 consulting.