Letter to the Participants at the First Annual Alumni Conference on ADR in Ghana http://gameyandgamey.com/new/
Welcome past participants of the Executive ADR programme to your first alumni conference.
First let me say thank you to Austin Gamey for all the work he has done in your beautiful country of Ghana and for Africa as a whole. His efforts have not gone unnoticed. It is by his good graces that I have this opportunity to share some of my own thoughts on ADR as you gather to affirm your knowledge, skills and attributes as the conflict resolution specialists you are becoming.
We are agents of change. As mediators we guide people through the PULSE Frame to a new understanding, not only of the situation but of themselves and each other. We open them to reinterpreting past events. We invite them to a safe and structured conversation in the present. We expand the field of the future to include positive, mutually beneficial outcomes that are sustainable by virtue of their voluntary nature … outcomes that neither would have considered possible at the beginning of their deliberations.
People may ask how we accomplish such things. We do this through skillful questioning whish changes how people think, feel and experience their circumstances. We do it by taking a positive stance ourselves and believing in the possibility of such outcomes and holding the space for them to choose, to act, to dream, to be known, to be heard and to be positive. We do it by acknowledging that every person is unique and each approaches the world from their own perspective. Unique does not mean wrong and so we teach people to value what they are not. Often it is not necessary for them to agree with the other person but if they can acknowledge and understand each other than the cycle of conciliation and reconciliation can begin.
And as we become skillful mediators we can the courage to make changes in our own lives and the confidence to make a difference in the world around us. We begin to apply these skills, this stance and this appreciation for the uniqueness of individuals to all our conversations even those that are not high conflict or high emotions. When we do we ensure that conversation have sustainable, positive outcomes in every instance. And as more and more people learn the skills, the world becomes a better place in which to live.
If everyone could learn to speak gently so that the other person could keep listening; if everyone could learn to be honest in a gentle way and be open to hearing the other person’s story; if everyone would speak in specific terms using bahvioural examples rather than terms such as ‘always’ or ‘never’; if everyone could find the courage to talk, to bring up difficult topics and ask difficult questions in a gentle, honest way that clears the air; then wouldn’t that increase the likelihood of us all having peaceful, healthy, happy, productive lives at work and at home? I believe it would.
The trick, I have learned, is in finding common ground. My new book “Mapping the Space between Us” is about finding common ground. In it you will discover paths that we can take in conversation, a compass and a map to help guide you and help you guide others. We become wayfinders for our tribes, our families and our coworkers. You will learn to identify the Direction and Orientation of people in conversation and how to plot those. Once you have that information guiding questions lead to common ground and a firm foundation for strong relationships.
I look forward to sharing this new book with you soon. I also look forward to working with you through webinars and on site courses moving forward as the PULSE Institute sets up its new home at the University of the Virgin Islands, on the Island of St Thomas, USVI. Meanwhile be Sharp of mind, Happy of heart, Independent of spirit, Fit of body and cultivate a Trusting soul. SHIFT to a place where you can guide others to common ground and sustainable resolutions. I wish you luck and learning as you enjoy your first alumni conference together.