To date 140 people have attended NCRN sponsored Handling Conflict workshops. The courses are facilitated by the Alternatives to Violence Project, Britain. The level one course covers building self esteem, methods of communication and ways to resolve conflict. In the past the workshops have taken place on a residential basis, however recently we changed the model to accommodate those who can’t get away for a weekend. This worked very well, attracting far more applicants than places available. Each of those who attended said they would recommend the course to others. Many said they would take what they had learned and use it in their everyday lives. If you live, work or volunteer in Newcastle you are entitled to apply for a free place on the course. Please continue to check the website for more information.
Recently the Handling Conflict workshop was aimed at city workers from the region and in this regard was slightly different to previous workshops as all the participants were qualified professionals. The following is a brief account of the weekend which was well received by those taking part.
Put fourteen people together in an isolated old house in the country for a weekend and what do you get? No, not a murder mystery, but better ways of handling conflict and a lot of fun.
The place: Minsteracres, a retreat house on the west side of the A68, where we had a very warm welcome from both the staff and their brand new biomass boiler. The people: we were eleven participants and three trained Alternatives to Violence Project facilitators, all of us volunteers and wanting to handle better the inevitable conflicts in our lives.
NCRN’s residential workshop was open to both residents or city workers (or both). Unusually, on this occasion all the participants were highly qualified professionals. Rather daunting for me as an apprentice facilitator. Confidentiality is required of everyone taking part, so from the very first greetings we began to build an atmosphere of trust and co-operation in which everyone felt safe to participate.
We all brought examples from our personal experience of friction, at home and/or at work, – conflict which we thought we’d managed well, and also conflict that we wanted to handle better. These real life situations prompted us to think about what strategies had worked, and why. We worked on communication – yes, we can all speak and listen but we can become more skilled, especially when we’re seeking common ground to resolve problems.
In conflict situations where we felt we were getting nowhere, we considered alternative approaches and practised them in role play. There was little ‘teaching’, though we looked at some theoretical models to understand better why we sometimes struggle and what might work better.
This may sound rather serious, and certainly we took it seriously, but it was also very good humoured – in fact several people said they hadn’t laughed so much for years. One person’s evaluation was that the weekend had been inspiring and re-invigorating – far better than a who-dun-it!