Peace-Building Conversations:
Transforming Communication through Peace

This three-weekend course transforms our approach to conflict – it is a reorientation toward bringing peace into all areas of our lives. By changing how we think about and move through conflict, we can change the language of conflict.

Most of us want to have health, happiness and peace in our lives. For some this is central to who they are and how they choose to live. While conflict is an unavoidable reality of life, how we manage those conflicts internally and how we plan for those difficult conversations where conflict challenges our centredness, groundedness and joyful living, makes all the difference to the level of peace, harmony and calm success we experience in our lives.

There are many ways to build peace. We have many spiritual practices available to us. This learning series is about peace-building conversations as a spiritual practice that can be applied in everyday moments of our lives, whether at home or at work.
Shirley Lynn successfully integrates her training and study in peace & conflict mediation, Reiki Ryoho, energy psychology techniques as well as Appreciative Way coaching and peace keeper circles to this “conversation training”. This course utilizes in part the great work of Dr. Joseph Schaeffer, a renowned educator, author and consultant with forty years of practical experience in the field of creative communication and is the founder of The Forsyth Centre for Community and Communication.

Module One: Coaching Ourselves Toward a Conversation for Peace (2 days)
This first module focuses on the pre-conversation necessities that create the intention for peace. We will explore in depth the four key elements in planning for a peace-building conversation through clarifying:
• who we are (evaluating the self – knowing your own story),
• what effect our surroundings have,
• our relationship with our ‘neighbour’, and
• the ‘gatekeeper’ questions – to determine what our process must include to best focus on the peace we intend.
Through this self-evaluation, we will look at what our own stories are. Then we will look at other perspectives and stories and contemplate what differences could happen in conflict resolution if we choose a peace-building strategy. You will leave with a self-coaching method that will help you in planning for peace-building conversations.

Module Two: Nurturing our Conversation for Peace (2 days)
Pre-Requisite: Module One: Coaching Ourselves Toward a Conversation for Peace
In this next module we will continue our journey into peace-building conversations by focusing on the conversation itself. We will explore:
• how to build rapport and trust with your ‘neighbour’ at the outset
• respect and acknowledgement skills (qualities of character, participation, developing principles of peace)
• how to deal with intentions that compete with each other in the conversation
• listening skills, including the use of intention, and learning where your gifts lie as well as where your shadow thought patterns interfere
• the sources of ‘meaning’ and ‘experience’ as the conversation unfolds.

Module Three: Expanding our Conversation for Peace (3 days)
Pre-Requisite: Module Two: Nurturing our Conversation for Peace
In this final module we will focus on the relationship that evolves out of the peace-building conversation. We will explore:
• what to expect beyond the conversation’s end
• creating concrete actions and goals in mutual accountability
• forgiveness and creative empowerment as a path to peace
• the seed of peace and community within – what are the responsibilities? the joys?
• our assumptions and values about decision-making and finding peace in any outcome
• the creative differences that can arise in peace-building conversations.

… I have come to understand that peace is not some concept out there that we just happen to come across and invite into our lives. Peace is a conscious practice like a muscle that we must develop and work with great diligence and care…. This course is helping me to make the choices and take the action I need to bring more peace into my life. It has strengthened my commitment to peace and reinforced that for peace to be experienced we must seek our truth and know love.

… I needed to find a better way to communicate in all aspects of my life – the methods I had been using just weren’t working for me. I’ve taken other communication and leadership courses, and read a great deal of literature on these topics, but somehow it wasn’t integrating the way I needed it to in my life…. When the course convened, I was honoured to be in the presence of a strong and dedicated group of people. We were blessed with Shirley as a leader, and her development of thoughtful, insightful, meaningful material. The energy was intense and the level of integration of the material, for me, was deep – what I was searching for. Shirley, as facilitator, was a role model of leadership for the group. Her presentation of the material and the movement of the group through the process was thought and discussion provoking…. Thanks, Shirley, for the excellent illustration of leadership and presentation of simply and logically structured coursework that enabled, for me, a clear shift in many areas of my life.

The Peace-Building Conversations workshop was extremely valuable because it provided me with insights to peace (internal/external) that I had not considered. This was important to me because, although I’m continually advocating for peace, there are never too many tools and insights for me to learn. I believe people need to enjoy a first-hand experience with Shirley Martin as a facilitator. Shirley has an ineffable way of anticipating the material required as well as providing in-the-moment guidance that is relative to participants as they work through the material. Facilitation is where Shirley shines. Shirley is grounded yet creatively intuitive to group and individual needs. Her insights provide a forum for intimate and safe group dynamics while simultaneously guiding individual experiences. Shirley is comfortable in balancing (what may appear to be) oppositional concepts so that participants can access insights that may be otherwise obscured….