(1) Working with Consensus Group

Maybe it’s just a product of getting older and becoming more aware of what’s going on in the world, but it feels to me like we’re all becoming more stratified. I look at the communities I recognize myself as part of, and feel like we’re all crumbling apart.

My work with Consensus Group feels like I’m stepping in the right direction, for a change.

Consensus Group is a consulting firm with specific focuses on conflict resolution, communication and peace building. Their work includes giving classes on conflict resolution, negotiation and communication in the workplace and in everyday life, helping in specific conflict and negotiation situations, and working with the United Nations to facilitate long-lasting peace in conflict regions around the world. It sounds at first quite specific, but it touches on many things.

If you are trying to help people learn new skills—in this case, that includes how to communicate better, how to resolve conflicts effectively, and how to improve negotiation skills—the challenge is not just providing them with the information. You also need to find a way to present that information in an engaging and informative way. It’s just one small part of what happens at Consensus Group, but it’s needed. That’s been my focus in the past few weeks.

What that boils down to is wrapping up real, important lessons in a package that would catch a person’s interest and keep them engaged throughout the lesson. If done right, the person will leave with a genuine new tool in their toolbox, and a desire to learn more.

With this in mind, I work with Consensus Groups to write articles that present their lessons in an exciting and intriguing way. For me, as someone who of course is just starting on this work in the summer, it means I need to first learn about what they teach, and then find an inventive way to present it.

Fortunately, Consensus Group has been unbelievably supportive and helpful, and I’ve been learning from them those tenets of their teachings in depth. Therefore, I’ve been able to focus on learning how to write about something I care about in a way that makes other people care too. And I’ve learned more about conflict resolution, negotiation, communication and peacekeeping than I ever had before.

These are subjects that we all know about a bit. After all, we communicate and we deal with difficult problems needing resolution constantly. But this type of learning is a whole other beast altogether.

Hopefully my work with Consensus Group does something to help get others interested in the core focuses of the group, and to realize the importance of communication, and of finding better ways to resolve our problems than the less-than-ideal ones many of us tend to default to. It starts small, with people caring about communication, and learning ways to do so in a productive and peaceful way.