Navigating Conflict and Change: Training Facilitators in Dialogue for Peaceful Change

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LCC International University recently had the honor of hosting peace facilitators Colin and Rachel Craig and Michael Gibbs from Northern Ireland for a series of workshops in facilitator training in navigating conflict and change. The workshops united LCC staff, students, and external guests and focused on broadening the framework for peacebuilding based on the Dialogue for Peaceful Change methodology. During February and March 2023, the training included an exploration of the interconnection of both mimetics and memetics, which are important concepts in the field of peacebuilding and conflict management.

The methodology from Dialogue for Peaceful Change is designed to transform conversations and help people engage in peaceful dialogue as well as to understand conflict and change at a deeper level. While mediative skills may sound simple, they are often all too difficult to practice when it matters. But the workshop proved that they can be learned, practiced, and mastered, which is the core of the DPC methodology. The training aimed to teach participants these skills, along with an expanded introduction to the neuro-science and biology of conflict.

The recognition of conflict and change as part of a continuum of human experience is critical for shifting conflict towards more positive potentials. Considering conflict and context as well as the values that drive us are critical if we hope to build peace. The training explored and applied core models to do this through the FEARS, Iceberg and Tides approaches along with conflict mapping and pillars. Through participatory methods, it became clear that “The Map is Not the Ground” as Colin Craig, the head facilitator reminded us, yet highlighted how effective models are critical in finding starting points from which to engage constructively and navigate our way towards a more positive future where conflict exists.

A final highlight of intense coaching practice in mediative questioning left participants not only with an understanding of the complexity of conflict and ways to help reknit relationships but a stronger verbal communication repertoire to face challenging situations and a reminder to remember “who owns the story” and “who owns the process” in facilitating a way out of conflicts that appear stuck.

The workshop training also offered opportunities to grow new friendships and strengthen peacebuilding networks. In a final honoring circle, participants shared their takeaways and spoke about a sense of new growth. Kristina Mareckienė , from Vilnius noted how critical growing understanding in conflict and communication was and the need to “get it down into our bones”’ as she highlighted the power that dialogue for peaceful change has in enabling conditions for restoration, repair and rebuilding of relationships. Hopefully a community of practice and support will grow here in Lithuania which affirms the ‘art of the possible’ as we seek constructive change where destructive conflict exists.

This facilitator training course goes beyond debate and discussion, towards looking for common ground and creative discovery of new options for ways out of seemingly unresolvable differences and conflicts. The course empowered participants to become facilitators themselves, able to guide others through difficult conversations and help them find peaceful solutions to conflicts. Participants were able to learn how to apply these models in real-world scenarios, gaining practical skills that they can use in their personal and professional lives.

Overall, the workshops , provided through the Center for Dialogue and Conflict Transformation, were a valuable opportunity for participants to expand their knowledge and learn important skills for peaceful conflict resolution and fostering conditions for possibilities of transformation. The training also provided a platform for participants to engage in peaceful dialogue and practice the core skills of listening, suspending judgment, and summarizing perspectives. As the world faces increasing conflicts and challenges, initiatives like this are crucial for building a more peaceful and cooperative society.

3 Apr 2023