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  • Ronnie Rosenbaum

October is Conflict Resolution Month in Golden and in Colorado

Conflict Resolution Month in Colorado began in 2007 inspired by earlier work by

the Association for Conflict Resolution.  In an ambitious effort to ensure that Colorado is the

most civil state in the Union, groups of energetic and dynamic individuals have come together each year to promote and celebrate productive problem-solving in our state. Annually, beginning in 2008, the City of Golden proclaimed October as Conflict Resolution Month.

One of the major reasons I am involved with Golden United is to encourage and support the diversity of those of us who live in or visit Golden. Being able to have conversations with people who are different than we are is an important part of embracing that diversity. The motto for Conflict Resolution Month is Listen. Talk. Work it Out. Sounds good, but how do we do that?

Even as a professional mediator, I had been a conflict avoider in my personal life. I stayed away from discussing controversial issues with family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors whose points of view differed from mine because I did not want to offend them or harm our relationship. Once I became more comfortable using listening and communication skills, I realized that not only was I avoiding the conversations and the people, but my connections with those important to me were impacted. If that rings true for you, practice using one or more of these steps and see what happens. More information about skill-building resources are listed below.

Ten Steps for Conversations that Encourage Listening

  1. Set the stage: plan a time and place to discuss concerns.

  2. Determine who needs to be involved in the conversation.

  3. Start the conversation; observe without evaluating; make “I” rather than “you” statements.

  4. Listen to understand; focus on desired outcomes, not necessarily the strategies, of all involved.

  5. Ask, don’t make assumptions.

  6. Separate the problem from the person; don’t take it personally.

  7. Brainstorm options to resolve the problem.

  8. Choose a mutually agreeable solution.

  9. Reiterate and confirm agreements and follow-up steps.

  10. Agree on a process to resolve differences in the future.

Resources A Living Room Conversation is a conversational model developed to facilitate connection between people despite their differences, and to help them identify areas of common ground and shared understanding. The developers created over 100 conversation guides on topics including race, politics, religion, and health; and offer a short training on how to organize and host these on Zoom. Braver Angels brings together conservatives and liberals with the goal of depolarization. They provide debates where a group of people think together, listen carefully to one another, and allow themselves to understand and perhaps be changed by each other’s ideas; and “Skills for Bridging the Divide” workshops. They are focusing now on a campaign to help Americans have difficult political discussions without descending into all-out conflict. The podcast Well, That Went Sideways! explores the complex terrain of conflict with experts in conflict resolution, equity, communication, trauma, and more. Each episode will offer tools, strategies, and concepts that you can start using right away both in your personal life and in your efforts to create a more just and equitable world.

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