Leaders learn to resolve conflict at seminar
Photo by Jennifer Bowman
Bracebridge employees were among those who attended a one-day workshop on Friday on conflict resolution. From left to right: Dana Rahkola, assistant director of development services; Cheryl Kelley, derector of economic development; Carol MacLennan, municipal treasurer; Susan Keast, human resources
BRACEBRIDGE - Leaders throughout Muskoka learned how to resolve conflict in a one-day workshop in Bracebridge on Friday.
The workshop was led by Evan Hoffman, executive director of the Canadian International Institute of Applied Negotiation. The institute was founded in 1992 to prevent and resolve conflict on local, national and international levels. It has worked with local organizations in conflict zones such as Columbia, Haiti, Pakistan and Lebanon, as well as organizations in Eastern Europe.
Recently it teamed up with Nipissing University in Bracebridge to offer the program to local parents, workers, and anyone who encounters conflict.
Susan Keast, who works in human resources for the Town of Bracebridge, said building consensus is a daily part of her job.
The message that stood out to many at Friday’s workshop, including Keast, was a diagram of two triangles overlapping each other slightly at one corner.
“It created a visual tool to build consensus,” she said. “That’s what I found most useful.”
The triangles represent two sides coming at a problem from different directions. The overlapping corners represent what the two parties have in common.
Find common ground, then work from there, Keast said.
“Sometimes when you’re trying to solve a problem or work with a team, you’re both so set on your position or their position that you’re kind of north and south instead of working from a common ground,” she said.
The solution can be taken to other areas of life as well.
“It’s a tool for dealing with kids and spouses or whatever,” Keast said.
Keast organized the day with several groups in an effort to make training days more cost effective for municipalities. At Friday’s workshop there was staff from the Town of Bracebridge, District of Muskoka and Nipissing University. It included a range of responsibilities from planner, to human resources, to economic development.
The diversity makes training more meaningful, Keast said.
The workshop included role playing to help the participants understand how conflict resolution works.
Dana Rahkola, assistant director of development services for the Town of Bracebridge, said much of what they learned is applicable also in personal relationships.
“There’s an excellent model just for being able to put out positions and hope that you can find sort of common ground once you dig underneath the issues,” he said. “Listing where they’re coming from and engaging in conversation and finding common ground.”
He said the model helps people find that common ground instead of being in an adversarial position.