Verner Smitheram from the Centre for Conflict Resolution Studies at the University of PEI was kind enough to conduct a couple of sessions with the directors of the L.M. Montgomery Land Trust over the past month.
We’re a well-tempered lot at the Land Trust, so we didn’t need the sort of full-court press conflict resolution that Verner and his team can provide. But we needed to do some long term planning, and we had a vague sense that our skills at holding meetings weren’t all they could be.
Now I’m the first personal to be a cynic about “methods” of anything — I usually prefer improvisation and anarchy if it’s an option — but I must say that Verner’s method, called “the interest-based approach to conflict resolution” has much to recommend it.
Our meetings were short, and we got a sort of “introduction lite” to the method, but we got a good taste for how it works nonetheless, and we had a much better couple of meetings than we would have otherwise.
If you’re in a situation where you’re on one side of a conflict that needs resolving, or if you just need a better way to work together as a group, and you think a disciplined approach led by a disinterested third party might help, I can think of no better group to call than Verner’s. Their website has complete details about their services and courses.