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Monday, July 30, 2012

Reduce Bullying by Supporting Peer Mediation

by @ 12:14 pm. Filed under Conflict Resolution, Joe's Rants, Nonviolent Communication

Community Mediation, my day job, is very excited to announce the launch of our IndieGoGo campaign, “Help Kids Making a Difference in Their Communities.” The purpose of this campaign is to raise funds so we can order hoodies for the peer mediators we’ve trained in New Haven area schools; these will help our peer mediators advertise the program, stand out from other students, and be part of something larger than themselves: reduced suspensions, incidents of violence and fighting, and creating a peaceful climate.

The campaign will be up for 55 days, and we are aiming for $8500 dollars; this will ensure that we order enough hoodies to cover the kids we have trained, as well as more for the students we will train in the future. The campaign is based off of similar initiatives in other states which have been successful.

Peer mediation is a proven way to reduce conflicts and other problems in our schools, and our peer mediators learning these skills will keep using them throughout their lives. Peer mediation has a proven success rate of anywhere from 58-93% in reducing conflicts in schools, resulting in reduced suspensions and an overall decrease in disciplinary measures needed. Most students, when asked, state that they use the skills they learn both in and out of school, with their friends, family and others.

If you are able, please follow the link below to donate, and even if you aren’t, please share it with anyone you know who is.


Monday, November 1, 2010

giveGreater Challenge 2010

by @ 8:35 am. Filed under Conflict Resolution, Joe's Rants, Nonviolence, Nonviolent Communication, Restorative Justice, Site News

As many of  my readers know, I stopped blogging so much because I was able to move on to a new and exciting job doing what I love and care about.  I took the job of Associate Executive Director of Community Mediation, Inc. (CM)  You can guess on your own that I have already begun infusing Nonviolent Communication into much of the work that we are doing.  Since I know many of the folks who read this website also support the work I am trying to do and my hope of training a whole city in conflict management skills, I ask you to help my new organization with this local challenge to raise money.  No matter where in the world you live, change has to start someplace, why not CT?  Give and help support the work we are doing……

In the past few months, CM has been in the schools teaching New Haven youth peer mediation skills.  We have been to various agencies like Madonna Place in Norwich, Public Allies in New Haven, The Children’s Center in New Haven and New Haven Family Alliance presenting workshops based on Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication.  We helped to organize and present at the Seventh John A. Speziale Alternative Dispute Resolution Symposium titled, Achieving the Goals of Criminal Justice: A Role for Mediation.

We are currently working with New Haven Police to present community dialogues that will introduce citizens in each district of New Haven to the new NHPD Police Chief, Frank Limon.  We are also working with the New Haven Juvenile Review Board (JRB) along with New Haven Family Alliance to provide mediation at each of the JRB panel hearings.  We are  working to start new programs, expand our mediation services and train more people in our community in mediation, conflict management and facilitation skills.

We cannot do all the great work we are doing without support from you, the community.  The Community Foundation has started a new website to make it easier for you to support us.  They have also issued a challenge to the community to find 50 people willing to make a donation more than $50.00 to make us eligible to get an additional $25,000 to continue and expand the work we are doing.  We ask that you help us with this challenge by making a donation through the new giveGreater website for us.  Your money goes toward making New Haven, Connecticut and our world a more peaceful place.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Peace Takes Action, Not Signs

by @ 9:04 am. Filed under Conflict Resolution, Nonviolence, Nonviolent Communication

In my sleepy New England beach town lives a group of people who stand on the corner at the main light in town holding signs that read “honk for peace” and “Stop the War.”  Of course, I support this message.  I don’t support people standing on the side of the road holding signs for peace and that is because I don’t believe peace comes to anyone through crayola creations.  If you truly want peace, put down the poster board, role up your sleeves and take a short trip into the downtown city near you where kids are killing kids, gangs are more popular than schools and our elected leaders see nothing wrong with putting 14 year old children in jail for fighting.  Put down the sign and realize that peace takes work, action and persistence not signs.

I have always been a bit annoyed on some level when I see people going to great lengths to promote the idea of peace in the middle east, peace in other countries, even world peace and yet those same people do little or nothing to foster peace in their own backyards.  I mediate with groups of kids more often than I would like, who have been arrested in their schools for fighting, even all out brawls of kids fighting.  They get arrested, expelled from schools so they won’t get educations and the bloodlines of poverty continue. When these young adults come to me, they carry in charges like assault or breech of peace.  Many are in hearings to be expelled from school.   In most of the cases I have done, the fights come from petty he said/she said arguments that kids just haven’t been taught to manage.  We fail our kids for each day that goes by and we don’t teach them the skills they need to manage conflict with others. We fail them even further when we punish them for our failures rather than restoring them and the community by teaching them, counseling them and giving them the tools they needs to succeed.

From this, I hope you can understand my frustration when I see this group waste a whole Saturday on the side of the road with signs for peace when I know they could have spent the day mentoring kids, volunteering at the local community center or offering to babysit for a single mom who needs child care so her kids don’t grow up in poverty.  They could have spent the same Saturday taking some inner city youth hiking in the woods, or to clean up the parks where the adults left their trash.  Perhaps they could have volunteer to be the ones that teach these kids conflict skills so they stop killing each other.

I understand they want to express their passion for peace and I want them to know, it takes more than passion to have peace.  Eleanor Roosevelt said once, “It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.”  Not sure I could get this message across to others any more clearly than she did.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Haven, CT Workshop: Communicating Compassionately in a World of Conflict

by @ 9:02 pm. Filed under Conflict Resolution, Conflict Resolution Tips, Nonviolence, Nonviolent Communication

Communicating Compassionately in a World of Conflict

April 16, 2010 – 32 Elm St. New Haven, CT
9:00AM – 4:00PM

Transform conflict in your home, workplace, school and in your community

Based on the work of Marshall Rosenberg and the Center for Nonviolent Communication

Most of us have been educated from birth to compete, judge, demand, and diagnose — to think and communicate in terms of what is “right“ and “wrong“ with people. We express our feelings in terms of what another person has “done to us,” instead of taking responsibility for our feelings independent of another person. We struggle to understand our own needs in the moment, or to effectively ask for what we want without using unhealthy demands, threats, or coercion. At best, communicating and thinking this way can create misunderstanding and frustration. And still worse, it can lead to anger, depression, and even emotional or physical violence.

Through a combination of lecture, group work, video and role plays, we will examine the thinking, language, and moralistic judgments that keep us from managing the conflicts in our lives. We will explore the 4-Part NVC process and how it can be used to express ourselves in ways people can hear without judgment or raising defenses. We will also explore news ways to hear what others are saying so we don’t hear blame or judgment of us. You’ll start to manage conflicts with more easily, request what you want without using demands and begin to strengthen your personal and professional relationships.

To Register:
Register Online at www.community-mediation.org or mail check or money order to: 32 Elm Street, New Haven, CT 06510. (Checks should be made payable to Community Mediation, Inc.) Registration is open to the public. Seating is limited. The requested fee for this training is $89.00 per person and includes lunch and materials. A selection of NVC books will be available for purchase at the workshop via cash or check. The deadline for registration is April 12, 2010. Questions, please call (203) 782-3500.

About the Presenter:
Twice the victim of violent crimes, Joe Brummer has spent years exploring why people commit acts of violence against others. He has studied nonviolence, conflict resolution and clocked hundreds of hours at the mediation table. He has worked with the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence to bring nonviolence to youth in schools, trained with the Community Mediation Center of RI and serves on their Juvenile Restorative Justice Advisory Board. In the winter 2008, Joe attended the International Intensive Training on Nonviolent Communication. He has presented on NVC at national conventions, universities and private organizations across New England. Joe is the Connecticut representative for New England NVC. View his website at www.speakcompassion.com

Sponsered by Community Mediation, Inc.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Yemeni Peacemaker

by @ 4:08 pm. Filed under Conflict Resolution, Nonviolence

I saw this video posted on Waging Nonviolence.  Great stuff.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Surviving the Holidays: Navigating Family Conflict

by @ 9:26 am. Filed under Conflict Resolution, Conflict Resolution Tips, Nonviolence, Nonviolent Communication

The following article appeared in the December 2009 edition of Options Magazine in Rhode Island.

If you have ever seen the film, “Home for the Holidays” staring Robert Downey, Jr. where bitter battles, flying turkey dinners and screaming matches are just as much a theme for the holidays as cranberry sauce or potato pancakes, you know that the holiday season can bring out family conflicts. A holiday dinner can have simple questions provoking sarcastic comments, opposing political viewpoints turning into heated angry debates or boyfriend choices turning into slamming dishes.

One of the reasons we end up in conflict is because we listen to the words people choose rather than the message behind them. Psychologists have been telling us for decades that all behavior, including our words, is an attempt to get our basic human needs met. Psychologist and creator of the process known as Nonviolent Communication, Marshall Rosenberg claims that human beings are only saying two things, “Please” and “Thank you.” While we have many versions of expressing these two things, we are really only asking people to “please” meet our needs or expressing gratitude when our needs are met. When we listen to the needs and feelings behind difficult messages, we are able to stay in a place of compassion.

We have four basic choices of how we can hear and respond to difficult messages. The first choice is to fight back. This means redirecting the message back to the speaker. This includes competing to prove rightness or wrongness. For example we might say, “Well if you hadn’t…” or “You know the problem with you is…” This choice tends to put the speaker in a “fight or flight” defensive state rather than a place of connection. In this mind frame, people tend to be more concerned with being right than hearing each other.

The second choice is to turn the message on ourselves. It usually sounds like “If only I was a better…” or “I know, I am terrible at these things…” This response tends to turn our focus away from the speaker and into a self-loathing session in our heads. It prevents us from being fully present to what the speaker is really saying and does little for our self-esteem.

The third and fourth choices focus on listening for “please” and “thank you.” We can hear the speaker’s message and try to connect with what comes alive within us in response. What are we “feeling and needing” in response to what we are hearing or seeing. Just being aware of this can help to keep us focused on being compassionate rather than judgmental.

Lastly, we have the choice to check in with the speaker about what is going on for them. It means hearing the “please” and “thank you” buried in their message regardless of how sarcastic, judgmental or thoughtless we believe the words they chose may be. We don’t listen to the words. We listen for the needs being expressed. For example, someone who states “talking to you is like talking to a wall” might really be expressing a need to be heard. Someone who states, “You are ruining your life” might really be expressing fear and a need for security for you. Rosenberg states, “Every moral judgment, snappy remark or evaluation of others is a tragic expression of an unmet need.” If we listen to the human needs and not the poor choose of words, we hear a completely new conversation.

Here is the flying turkey clip from the film: Home for the Holidays

Watch on YouTube

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

FREE WORKSHOP: Communicating Compassionately in a World of Conflict

by @ 12:32 pm. Filed under Conflict Resolution, Nonviolent Communication

I will be presenting a free workshop in January at the Dae Yen Sa International Buddhist Temple and Mediation Center in New Hartford, CT.    I am excited to do this workshop because the setting will allow for more minds to be exposed to the concepts and ideas of Nonviolence packaged into a process we can use everyday.  After studying the work of Gandhi, ML King, and other teachers of nonviolence, Nonviolent Communication™ (NVC) has been the most natural and purposeful way of living the messages of these great teachers that I have ever found.

You can see the Facebook page for this event here.  Please post it to your wall and share it with your friends.  I greatly appreciate your support in helping me to spread the word to make this a successful event for everyone involved.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Conflict Resolution Tip #9

by @ 10:49 pm. Filed under Conflict Resolution, Conflict Resolution Tips

Conflict Resolution Tip #9: Assume just one thing!

I know you have been taught for years not to make any assumptions.  I would like to give you one exception to this rule and I would like you to make this assumption each and every time there is a conflict.  “Assume” there is something you don’t know yet and start looking for the rest of the story!

By walking into the conflict making the assumption that there is something you don’t know, you will keep your curiosity up and increase your chances of making a connection with the person on the other side of the conflict.  A wise women I once trained with named Janice would say “Get curious, Not furious” and that is exactly what I am suggesting to you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Finding Compassion is a Journey

by @ 11:37 pm. Filed under Conflict Resolution, Conflict Resolution Tips, hate speech, Joe's Rants, Nonviolence, Nonviolent Communication

I have been spending a lot of my thoughts and energy lately on building compassion for those who do things or believe things with which I disagree.  This is not an easy task and it really involves not allowing myself to loose sight of other people’s humanity.  It also means truly focusing on the needs met by other people’s actions especially when I disagree.

Finding this compassion also seems to require me to believe that all humans are basically well intentioned and that is surprisingly not that hard.  For starters, psychologists have noted for decades that all human behavior is in the service of meeting human needs.  If the intentions of all people are really about getting their needs met, and all of us have the same universal human needs, that would mean that none of us has ever done anything that wasn’t well intentioned.  We are all just trying to get our needs met.  We just don’t always choose strategies that work with everyone else.

I have been watching the news and reading blogs of people with whom I disagree on strategies to meet their needs.  The healthcare bill is a prime example of this.  I am in favor of a the strategy of the public option.  This “strategy” meets my needs for growth for us as a Country because I believe it helps us value every human life.  It also meets my needs for financial security for the Country as I think this is the better move at keeping costs down since our treatments are keeping people alive longer but not without significant costs that are rising as our treatments get more advance, and people need more care.  I realize that other people feel anxious and concerned about this strategy because it doesn’t meet their needs for growth or financial security for the Country.  Pointing out that our needs are the same.  We all want, value and need financial security, we all want growth for the Country and the strategies we choose are not in agreement.  Our needs are what connect all of us.

Here’s the CATCH!

When I focus on the needs of other people and NOT the strategies, it is much easier for me to see them as human and find compassion.  It is easier for me than labeling them as “greedy” or “insensitive” to the plight of others.  I can then acknowledge their humanity while disagreeing with their tactics.  I can separate the people from the problem.

I realize I have oversimplified this for the sake of writing this article and that this takes more effort than some may think it is worth.  For me, as I can’t speak for anyone else, this is about the person I want to be and the world I want for future generations.  I don’t want to see others, regardless what they have done, as a label.  Take for  instance those who are against same-sex marriage, I don’t want to see a “bigot” because I have grown to believe people are not really “bigots.”  I think they are choosing strategies to meet their needs for spirituality that don’t meet my needs for equality.  I sometimes struggle to see their needs and get past the name calling that happens in my head, yet that is the person I am working to be. I wish we could find ways to meet both our needs and I have some doubts that will happen.  I still don’t want to sink so low that I have to call them names or view them as the enemy.  It is those enemy images that block us from seeing others’ humanity.  It is also those same enemy images that block them from seeing our humanity.

As I have said, this is a goal I have and I am working to achieve it in my life.  To find compassion for even those who I just don’t like.  I have learned that we don’t have to like people to connect with them as humans and yet when we can connect with them, humans are beautiful.  What’s not to like really?

One of the reasons I stopped writing as much about gay rights is that I realized how radical it is to look for compassion and empathy for people in the pro-family, anti-gay side. (example: Peter LaBarbera, Mary Gallagher, Brian Brown, etc.)  I have learned this isn’t always favorable in the eyes of many and I am even looking for compassion for them.  Sometimes I can find it and sometimes I can’t get past the fact I believe in the deepest parts of my soul,  their tactics of name calling and personal attacks on the other side hurt more than help our goals.

I guess it would be helpful if I explained what I mean by compassion and empathy.  First off, it doesn’t mean that I approve of what they are doing.  Compassion means I want to understand the “why” behind the actions.  What is this about for them?  For me, I think it is the easy way out to just call them a bigot or a hater and then call it a day. It is the easy way out to label someone something that detracts from their humanity and it is what they are doing to us?  I think it also oversimplifies things.  If all behavior is in the service of needs, then their actions meet universal human needs for them.  What are those needs and can they be met some other way and at less cost to others?

Even for lesser political things, I want to reach this place of compassion in my life. The guy that cuts me off on the highway could be seen as a maniac, rude, reckless and any other number of labels. With compassion, he might be seen as someone in a rush to see his dying mother before she passing away in the emergency room.

I don’t always agree with the people I meet. The real deal is that most people are not bigots, they are afraid. Calling them names like hater or bigot increases their fear while confronting their fear with compassion may actually calm it.  I believe the latter to be more effective.

So, how am I doing this?  What is the process?

The first step is to remove the labels we have on people.  As long as we are seeing people as bigots, haters, heartless, selfish, greedy, insensitive, cruel or whatever label we have, it is likely we are part of the problem, not the solution.  Next we need to connect and empathize with what needs the person was trying meet when they did what they did. Unless we connect and understand those needs, our actions in response are likely to create more violence.

Next, we need to to check back with ourselves.  We need to look at our own feelings, our pain in response to what this person (or group) did and what needs of ours were not met.  For each enemy image we have of someone, we must empathize with ourselves as to what needs of ours are not met.  For example, if we see our boss as “a jerk” and “a control freak” because he requested that all travel requests be approved before reimbursements will be given, it will be unlikely that we will be able to empathize with why he has done this and therefore impossible for us to find other ways for his needs to be met at less cost to us.

Chances are, if we only see the boss as a control freak, we will not address the issues that will then meet our needs.  We will instead feed our enemy images and look for other ways to back up our conclusion that he is a control freak.  On the other hand, if we are able to check in with our own needs, that travel isn’t always predictable and that pre-approval may not always be possible and that we have a need for financial security and cannot afford to “not” get reimbursed, then perhaps we can explore ways to meet everyone’s needs.  After we have done away with the enemy images, then we can explore what needs the boss was trying to meet with his new rule and see if there is another way that need can be met AND still meet our own needs.

For me, this is a personal journey I am taking to be the person I want to be.  I can’t say I know what needs are met by Peter LaBarbera with some of his actions.   I also can’t say I know what Gov. Donald Carcieri  needs were when he vetoed the domestic partner funeral bill.   I know the easy way out is to call him a bigot and a hater.  It also means my reactions will be from an energy of violence rather than compassion.   I don’t want that for myself.  I believe we can make change in other ways without using violence either physical or non-physical.

It is unlikely we can make change by convincing those who disagree with us how evil they are.  It is unlikely we can influence voters to vote for our rights by convincing them they are bigots and haters.  I do believe we can make change by empathizing with the fear in people that is the root of homophobia.   We can influence change by trying to help others see that their actions are effecting us in negative ways and explore ways they can get their needs met at less cost to us.  This process will work in the quest for equality and it can work in the conflicts in our families, places of employment and even our churches.

One of the reason both Gandhi and MLK were so successful in their nonviolent campaigns was their ability to find compassion for those who were viewed as their adversary.   This was also the case for President Ronald Reagan and Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev who somehow found ways to see each others humanity beyond their political differences.  They didn’t start this way.  They were arch rivals until one day Reagan is said to have turn to Gorbachev after a heated debate and say, “This isn’t working. Can we start over? Hi my name is Ron.  Can I call you Mikhail” and they formed a friendship that helped to end the cold war.

I believe this change in view can help us solve many of today’s problems in our families, in our schools, in our workplaces and in our communities.  It is written in the Tao Te Ching that if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.  I believe compassion is a better way and we can find it for those with whom we disagree when we change the way we look at them.   I know my journey is not for everyone but imagine if everyone took this journey with me. I wonder what we might accomplish.  As much as Gandhi?  As much as King?

Marshall Rosenberg writes in his book, Speak Peace in a World of Conflict: What you say next could change the world:

“Peace requires something more than revenge or merely turning the other cheek; it requires empathizing with the fears and unmet needs that provide the impetus for people to attack each other.  Being aware of these feelings and needs, people lose their desire to attack because they can see the human ignorance leading to these attacks; instead, their goal becomes providing the empathetic connection and education that will enable them to transcend their violence and engage in cooperative relationships.”

I am convinced if we can transform the way we see those with whom we disagree, we can find ways to meet everyone’s needs.  As soon as we can get past the labels that declare who is right and who is wrong; the labels that declare who deserves what punishment or reward then I believe we have a chance to make real lasting change.  The poet and philosopher Rumi wrote, “Out there beyond the ideas of rightness and wrongness there is a field.  I will meet you there.” It is on that field that the solutions to many of the conflicts in our lives stand for the taking.

I also believe that in those cases where it is difficult to make this connection, that at least one party has to make the effort for anything life-enriching to happen.  Why not you?  This is how we can “be the change we wish to see in the world.”

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Conflict Resolution Tip #8

by @ 10:30 am. Filed under Conflict Resolution, Conflict Resolution Tips, Nonviolence

Conflict Resolution Tip #8:  Conflict Resolution is not just some tool you use when you realize there is a conflict.  It is a complete shift in thinking.

There are dozens of conflict resolution training books and training packages out there.  There is the Thomas Kilmann Conflict materials, the Vitalsmarts materials, the work of Dan Dana who calls himself the “conflict doctor” and holds his workshops on cruise ships and of course there is Nonviolent Communication, which is where I base my workshops.  Some of these approaches focus on communication in conflict while others focus on workplace policy or leadership skills.   All of these approaches have one thing in common, they try to help you shift your thinking about and your behavior in response to conflict.  All of these also acknowledge one thing, in order to be a master at conflict resolution, you have to change your thinking about people.

There really is no workshop, book, video or even a cruise that is going to make you a pro at dealing with conflict either at work or in your family unless you are willing to make the shift in your consciousness about how you see other people during a conflict.  All of these programs plants seeds in you that work to help you make change in yourself and your approach, dealings and management of conflict.

So here is the tip, if you want your workplace, family or community to deal better with conflict, avoid focusing on learning quick fixes and small little workshops designed to put band-aids on communication or policy.  If you want to bring better conflict resolution skills to your workplace, business, family, school, or even the community where you live, you have to work on shifting people’s thinking so they will begin to see the benefits of the tools you want them to learn.   It also helps to shift the environment to one that welcomes conflict as something to bond people together rather than divide them apart.

Friday, October 23, 2009

New Film: End of Poverty?

by @ 3:27 pm. Filed under Conflict Resolution, hate speech, Joe's Rants, Nonviolence

This film looks to be another of those films where those who need to see it….won’t….as is usually the case.

While we stand and squabble about letting gays marry or stopping loving couples from seeing each other in the hospital….spending millions of dollars to protect an institution that 80% of the world may starve before they ever see, I can’t help but wonder if the energy is being spent protecting the wrong things.  Stop fighting gay people and start feeding those who are starving….

Those who fought to pass Prop 8 spent millions of dollars on ad campaigns and distortions that could  have built schools, bought mosquito nets or fed the homeless.   As we approach the next round of anti-gay campaigns, I wonder how much money will be wasted trying to stop people like me and my partner Rick from being married.  That same money could be used to fund music programs in inner-city schools.  It could be used to develop after school programs that help keep kids out of the reach of gang violence.

I would ask the anti-gays of the world….stop fighting gays and start working on the real issues that threaten our society as humans.   Your efforts to “save” marriage are bunk if we have no planet to get married on…..

Stop fighting Gay people and start feeding these people:

poverty1.jpg homeless-streets.jpg

Additional Facts:

20% of the population of the planet uses 80% of the resources and 30% more than the planet can regenerate.

over 50% of the grain traded around the world is used for animal feed or biofuels

of the 7 billion people on the planet, over 1 million are starving with no access to food

Surviving the Holidays: Navigating Family Conflict

by @ 10:48 am. Filed under Conflict Resolution, Conflict Resolution Tips, Nonviolence, Nonviolent Communication

This 2-day workshop scheduled for December 12 & 13, 2009 is being sponsored by Community Mediation, Inc. in New Haven, CT

What is it about the holiday season that brings out the worst in family conflicts? Is it possible to have a holiday without screaming, pouting and fighting? The answer is YES!

This two-day intensive workshop in Nonviolent Communication is designed to help participants learn new ways of dealing with family conflicts.

* Participants in this workshop will explore the roots of conflict and how we can respond to those we love with compassion rather than anger or sarcasm.

* Learn to clearly express your needs in a way your family will hear.

* Create more intimacy in your relationships.

* Gain concrete skills to navigate holiday gatherings with ease and joy.

December 12, 2009 from 9:00am until 4:00pm: Participants will learn the basics of Nonviolent Communication using their own family conflicts. Through lecture, interactive exercises, role plays and videos, participants will learn to express what is alive in them honestly without the use of guilt, shame or sarcasm. They will also learn to respond to others in ways that de-escalate conflict rather than fuel the fire.

December 13, 2009 from 9:00am until 2:00pm: Participants will learn to leave behind the enemy images of family members that lead to conflicts. They will practice empathetic listening to hear what is alive in others while still remaining true to themselves. Through exercises, games and discussion participants will explore using NVC to communicate in ways that bring the joy back to the holidays.

Registration is open to the public. Seating is limited. The requested fee for both days is $140.00. The requested fee for just day 1 is 99.00. Those with advanced NVC skills or those who have attended previous NVC Workshops may attend day 2 only for a requested fee of $49.00. Training fee includes lunch and materials.

Location: 32 Elm Street, New Haven, CT (parking is available in lot)

To Register online: www.community-mediation.org or call: (203) 782-3500

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Movie Night Tonight! Billboard From Bethlehem

by @ 12:53 pm. Filed under Conflict Resolution, Nonviolence

Tonight, I will be off to Niantic Cinema to see the film Billboard From Bethlehem.  The film focuses on a group called “Combatants for Peace” who are Israeli and Palestinian fighters who put down their weapons in exchange for more peaceful and nonviolent ways to solve conflict.   After the film there will be a Q & A will the filmmaker.

You can learn more about this film at http://www.iwagepeace.org

Here is the trailer…

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Conflict Resolution Tip #7

by @ 8:42 am. Filed under Conflict Resolution, Conflict Resolution Tips, Joe's Rants, Nonviolence, Nonviolent Communication

Conflict Resolution Tip #7: Avoid labels because they are only judgments!

As part of the language we have that adds to the violence on the planet, we use words that label people, even in the nicest of ways, into the category of what we think or evaluate they deserve.  We call some people “good” and others we call them “bad” depending on what we believe they deserve.  Of course, it is easy to point out these words are arbitrary.  What one person deems “good” another may deem “bad” and other may call “neutral.”  We have various terms to do this, all of which may be well intentioned, yet they set us up for conflict and violence regardless if we see the deserve language that lurks in our labels.

We use labels like good or bad, wholesome or thug, freedom fighter or  terrorist, stylish or trendy and even strong words like “creative” or “bland.”  We say someone is a “great” person or a “horrible” person.  No  matter how you look at it, these words amount to nothing more than moral judgments based on what we thing someone deserves.  We know from the work of University of Colorado Professor O.J. Harvey that the more moral judgments a society has in its literature, the more violence they have as well. So what would happen if we moved such judgments and labels out of our language?

This post was inspired because I read a birthday wish for Marshall Rosenberg that read:

“Happy birthday to a most wonderful,peace loving,well rounded and compassionate individual, Marshal Rosenberg! may you be blessed with more birthdays to come.”

While this wish is sincere, it is filled with moral judgments based on what the writer believes Marshall Rosenberg deserves.  I know from experience that Marshall Rosenberg would have preferred to be told what needs where met by the specific actions he took to celebrate the writer’s gratitude.   It can be more connecting to tell people exactly what they have done (using observations without evaluations) and how that action has contributed to your well being by meeting needs. For example, it might be better to say “Happy Birthday to a man who has taught hundreds of peace workshops and met my needs for peace, love, compassion”

The problem with labels is that they disconnect us from ourselves and others. The more labels you put on someone, regardless if those are positive or negative, the less you see the person.   We become focused on the label and our attention stops at what that label says someone else deserves.  For instance, in the above example of Marshall Rosenberg’s birthday wishes, the writer labels Marshall as wonderful, peace loving, well rounded and compassionate.  These are all words they express how the writer believes Marshall deserves a good birthday because of all the things he “is” the least of which is Marshall.

To avoid conflicts, focus on what people need rather than what we think they are.   Use observations to tell the person exactly what they have done that has enriched your life.  Tell them what needs of yours where met by what they have done and how you feel having those needs met.   This keeps the focus on how we can enrich life rather than what we think people are or what they deserve.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Workshop Reminder: #NVC Workshop at the National SOPHE Conference

by @ 10:50 am. Filed under Conflict Resolution, Joe's Rants, Nonviolence, Nonviolent Communication

I wanted to remind folks and request you help me spread the word that I will be presenting a workshop titled “Communicating Compassionately in a World of Conflict” at the 60th Annual Meeting of the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) on November 5, 2009.  The workshop is being presented as a pre-conference workshop from 5:30pm until 9:00pm at the Sheraton Center City Hotel at 17th & Race Streets in center city Philadelphia, PA.

This workshop is open to the general public and registration for the full conference is not required to attend.  To register for this workshop, you will need to download the registration form and fax it to the number listed or mail it to the SOPHE office at the address provided on the form.  You do not need to register for the full conference to attend or be a health educator to enjoy this.

I have created a flyer to help spread the word.  If you or someone you know is attending the SOPHE Conference in Philadelphia this November or you have friends in the Philadelphia area, feel free to send them this information.  This workshop will give attendees the basics of conflict resolution and communication and is based on the process of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and the work of Marshall Rosenberg.

NVC has had amazing impact around the world in schools, hospitals and in war torn countries.  You can see its impact on those with mental illness in this amazing article here.   This process has changed the lives of so many people including me.  I hope to see some of you at the workshop.

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"Be the change you wish to see in the world"
Mahatma Gandhi

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