Coordinated Management of Meaning

“When people hold stories reflecting contrasting points of view, conflict can be fostered. This is especially evident in situations that require a shared understanding for the people involved to synchronize the actions they take so they are complementary to one another rather than contradictory or inflammatory. …

People wanting to understand their own situations and also wanting to synchronize with others for a shared and coordinated understanding parallel the underlying principles of Coordinated Management of Meaning.”

-Beth Fisher-Yoshida

CMM: A Communications Perspective to Addressing Conflict

The Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) takes a communications perspective based in social constructionism in that we make the social worlds in which we live as a result of how well we communicate with one another. It is a practical theory with a set of established models and applications. We see it as a theoretical framework and methodology for addressing issues of violence and conflict, and for fostering peace and sustainability.

CMM was developed by W. Barnett Pearce and Vernon E. Cronen in the mid-1970s. The CMM Institute for Personal and Social Evolution works to preserve and support all things CMM, offering resources, programs and events.

Since 2012, AC4 has partnered with the CMM Institute to offer fellowships for graduate students or emerging scholars with conflict resolution focus to attend the annual CMM Learning Exchange where they can share about their own work and learn more about CMM. Our partners at the MD-ICCCR and Columbia’s Masters in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution (NECR) Program offer courses, workshops and trainings on CMM for current and aspiring practitioners.

“For years, I had been trying to bring together what I was learning from social science research, rhetorical studies, philosophy, theology, and, in my father’s term, the “School of Hard Knocks”. I felt that most of the models of communication that I knew were useful but that all were limited and limiting in some important ways, and that I had to invent something that was better. Communication is about meaning,… but not just in a passive sense of perceiving messages. Rather, we live in lives filled with meanings and one of our life challenges is to manage those meanings so that we can make our social worlds coherent and live within them with honor and respect. But this process of managing our meanings is never done in isolation. We are always and necessarily coordinating the way we manage our meanings with other people. So, I concluded, communication is about the coordinated management of meaning.” — W. Barnett Pearce

Please read more about CMM, including the basic principles underlying it, in this introduction written by W. Barnett Pearce: “A Brief Introduction to ‘The Coordinated Management of Meaning’ (‘CMM’)”

Other Resources

Pearce Associates offers consulting, training, facilitating and research. It works with groups, organizations, and communities, improving the way people communicate through a process called “dialogic communication.”

Publication coming soon: “Communicating Possibilities: A Brief Introduction to the Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM)” By Ilene Wasserman and Beth Fisher-Yoshida.

The Annual CMM Learning Exchange

Visit the CMM Institute or our CMM Learning Exchange Fellowship Program to learn more!