Today we had first event organised by our society and it was a presentation about Patterns and Alternatives in Conflict carried out by Claudia Maffettone. 20 people turned up and it was a great outcome for a Society that is just starting. I enjoyed the presentation very much, especially that just yesterday I attended a 7h course on Lone Working and Deescalation, it was a good one as well but the one from today grasped the essence of topic much better without unnecessary dragging it out. Below you can find what I learned from Claudia’s presentation, I hope you will find it encouraging to join future events organised by Peace Society.

Claudia’s presentation took us through basics of identifying patterns in conflict and evaluating our alternatives. As an experienced mediator she explained by using case studies and her own knowledge as well as drawing on different resources, the biggest mistakes you can do when you find yourself at the mediating table. Probably all of us after this workshop walked out with a clear idea on how to survive next argument in our relationships…  Claudia started the presentation by defining conflict and how people can get into disagreement by simply misunderstanding words and conceptions, also by making assumptions about differences of meanings of words. She even tried to bring some science into our theoretical minds of MA students by explaining neurological processes that stand behind conflict. It is all in our heads and brain usually sends out one of the three options: fight, flight or freeze.

Start by reflecting on your position and then simply put yourself in the shoes of person you are having a disagreement. Avoid words that would have hidden meaning of blaming underneath them and try not too use word “You” too often as it triggers defence system in the person you are accusing of actions. Empathise, listen, show understanding, switch from accusations and overusing word “You” into “I-statements”. , I feel, I understand, I listen, I need, I would appreciate… Take responsibility, admit your mistakes, emphasize good feelings that stand behind words, separate people from problems, make it less personal, create perceptions, show understanding, but keep it clear that understanding is not necessary the same as agreeing. Identify the needs, engage sides to find a shared solution, do not impose things, instead: acknowledge them.

Move to BATNA (Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement) and stay real with yourself, do not take away from yourself the opportunity to negotiate, but know your limits and be strong to walk away if they are being crossed. Stay:

  1. Calm (keep calm and carry on the mediation!)
  2. Flexible
  3. Open
  4. Creative

And the last: conflicts are scientifically proven to be unhealthy, so pick your battles smart and do not engage yourself in useless stress.

Sometimes I find myself falling asleep and losing it a bit on lectures, because the lecturer is not really engaging us in his little world. I feel like I am just supposed to be an audience to his show, with Claudia it is different. She has a very engaging way of presenting her ideas, her voice is alive and energetic, there is something about the hands gestures and the way her body language shows the enthusiasm she has for topic (maybe also a bit of Sicilian spirit over there? J ). She knows how to keep up the momentum and how to share her knowledge. I am definitely lucky to also live in the same dorm as Claudia, finding her inspirational. I hope that all of you enjoyed her presentation, she is open for feedback. Looking forward to learning more about mediation! Maybe we should use it to solve problems of cleaning the kitchen in our dorm??? 😀

It always make me happy to learn new things and self-improve, I am glad that I find this opportunities both at my new workplace, as well at the university. Lifelong learning experience in your face!

Also happened today: Christmas lunch for 1£ organised by Cycling4All and I discovered there is a humongous Christmas tree in the students central!