Race & Conflict: Tools to Transform Conflicts Across Difference

Yuko (left), Robin (right)

Yuko (left), Robin (right)

 

Experiential training

Duration: 3-4 hours (tailored to the needs of client)

Participant Number: Up to 30

All of who we are—i.e. our race, gender, class, ability, age—and how the diverse cultures in our society view conflicts affect how we navigate difficult conversations and situations. Conflicts can destroy or be a catalyst for change and action. How we approach conflicts matter. Raising our awareness of how we engage with conflicts both individually and systemically can greatly change the outcome. Disputes in the United States often end up being handled through the legal system, taking the power to make decisions out of the hands of those who are most affected. White institutional culture encourages competition and situations quickly become a “zero-sum” game in which there is a winner and a loser. Competitive environments without an understanding of the impacts of institutional racism create inequities and discourage mutual understanding and collaboration. 

Dimensions of diversity greatly inform and affect the way we perceive and respond to conflict. Conflict is complicated enough. When we add the dimension of diversity, it can become explosive. Our tendency to avoid conflicts could further harm the situation. The longer people wait to resolve their conflicts, the more they “harden” and dig into their positions. Organizationally, this can lead to diminished productivity, effectiveness, and wellness. Conflict takes both financial and emotional tolls on all of us.

This training explores conflicts through experiential exercises, theory, and discussion. Participants will learn a structural framework to address the conflicts that inevitably arise in communities and organizations, and gain an awareness of their own conflict tendencies as well as how their reactions impact the outcome. We will explore communication skills, both basic and specialized to address power and privilege. Participants will develop the capacity to manage multilayered conflicts when they arise.

Conflicts are inevitable. Race is an integral component in this country. It is our goal to introduce skills to help transform conflicts involving race into healthy conversations that increase resiliency, creative problem solving and deeper empathy to create a sustainable culture of collaboration.

 

Co-facilitated conversations

Duration: 1-2 hours (tailored to the needs of client)

We have found in our work with organizations that both individual and systemic components are embedded into conflicts. Before we can begin to address the systemic or structural issues, it is often helpful to focus on the individual, smaller conflicts that are present. This can function as a precursor to a larger group discussion or trainings.

These individual or small group facilitated discussions provide an opportunity for people to speak frankly about their individual experiences in a confidential space with a neutral third party where they can be heard and validated. 

Facilitated discussions and mediations support and guide the parties to clarify the issues at hand. The goal of a mediator is to assist the parties to have a more constructive conversation. The facilitator structures the conversation and works to fully understand all perspectives. Having a neutral third party whose function is not to judge or make any decisions, but to listen and understand all sides allows for all parties to feel respected and validated. The facilitation process builds capacity for parties to engage with their conflict in a more constructive way. 

Facilitated discussions rely on the power of understanding rather than coercion or persuasion. The facilitation process empowers the parties to assert their concerns and, at the same time, work through the conflict in a way that’s best for all parties. These discussions are voluntary and all parties must agree to participate.

When conflicts involve dimensions of race, it is helpful to have two facilitators; one of colors and one white to validate the different experiences of the parties. We provide a unique opportunity to dialog about issues involving race. Race brings complicated and uncomfortable dynamics. Our model provides the space and structure to support these conversations.  

 
 
 
“The facilitators were excellent; the information they had in their powerpoint and shared orally was well-organized and well-presented. The activities/engagement efforts were very strong as well.”
— Previous Participant
“This workshop helped to build a sense of community and openness among our management team to talk more about both conflict and explicitly about race. The creation of that space was incredibly important and that alone made the workshop worthwhile. Yuko and Robin did a really nice job creating that space and setting a tone that put people in the right frame of mind to engage.”
— Previous Participant