Conflict is a vital part of creative communication and collaboration, but often it is the cause of distress and discomfort. Living and/or working with others is deeply challenging as we all have our own ideas, our own ways of working, and our own agendas. In trying to resolve our conflicts we often make them worse. We may enter these conversations in an emotional aroused state, and the language we use can be blaming, frustrated or judgmental, and it becomes difficult to hear the perspective of the other, or to be heard yourself.
Most conflict arises through a breakdown in communication. Quite simply, we forget how to talk with one another. This workshop adresses the problem directly. Conversation is something we all participate in, frequently. Much of the time it is lighthearted and non-threatening, simply a tool we utilise for social interaction. But holding a serious, or potentially awkward conversation is an art, and not something we can take lightly. It is helpful to enter such conversations well prepared, thoughtful and compassionate, releasing our own agendas and showing up in a spirit of understanding and enquiry. Healthy, respectful interaction lowers arousal and paves the way for the restoration of relationship.
"The art of conversation is the art of hearing as well as of being heard." — William Hazlitt
Method and Framework
Interleaving Augusto Boal's theatre work with the Human Givens model, Clean Language and Quaker discernment practices, this workshop offers a set of ideas and skills, and provides a space to explore their applicability. Using your own scenarios, potential (or actual) conflicts can be role-played in a safe environment, where mistakes and outright failure are all part of the learning process.
When it comes to holding difficult conversations there are no simple solutions, and no technique that is guaranteed to work. This workshop begins with that recognition, and will end with its acceptance. And yet we can all do better, and here you'll have the opportunity to acquire some basic skills, and through listening, observing, and practicing the art of conversation to learn from one another.
It is important to remember that resolving conflict does not mean making everything nice, or everyone happy. This is not an exercise in compromise. Conflict is a powerful tool for creativity, and for change. This workshop will stay focused on the positive aspects of conflict, looking to utilise it thoughtfully, mindfully and respectfully.
"Happiness is a garden walled with glass: there's no way in or out. In Paradise there are no stories, because there are no journeys. It's loss and regret and misery and yearning that drive the story forward, along its twisted road." — Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin
The New NormalSince the outbreak of COVID19, online interaction has become the default way of interacting for people across the world, making many conversations more uncomfortable than they may otherwise have been, and resulting in underlying frustration a low-level conflict. We no longer have the subtleties of body language, direct eye-contact or other bodily nuance that allows human beings to re/connect.
The challenge now is to find our way through the virtual walls and seek new ways to connect, listen, understand, forgive and resolve. It is important we learn how to do that soon.
As I consider this workshop to meet the needs of a wide-ranging group of people, not just business folk, the places are offered on a sliding scale, according to income—or lack thereof. If the prices offered are still outside your affordability range, please let me know and we can agree on a fair price to suit your circumstances. Price should never be a barrier to learning.
Facilitator: Tobias Mayer
I have been facilitating groups for almost thirty years, and have spent over fourteen years consulting in the corporate world. With two marriages, one divorce, four children, multiple encounters with drug addicts and alcoholics, and many years working in the probation, youth work and refugee support fields I feel well seasoned in the world of awkward conversations and conflict resolution. I currently teach public workshops in the business world, and study Theology and Human Givens psychotherapy.
"Thank you, Tobias, for such a soul-feeding experience today! The role play was downright cathartic for me and I'm so grateful that you created this space for human beings to play and struggle in. One of the best learning experiences of my life. I have learned so much from you: not just about the substance of the class but about teaching too." — Maria Fafard, executive coach & facilitator
"The conversations we avoid or mismanage often lead to unnecessary suffering and broken relationships. In this workshop, Tobias designs a review of the experience as a whole, in order to break it down to explore how to better prepare and increase your awareness of the possibilities engaging in this type of communication actually brings. The range of participants, the size of the group, the experiential exercises, and the reflections that followed, means that you have a wonderful opportunity to check your attitude when approaching real-life examples of awkward conversations, and how to focus on what you can control, rather than worrying about the other party. As with anything Tobias-related, it's thoughtful, deep, and offers you valuable insight into your personal growth." — Moe Choice, leadership consultant and cofounder coach
Read more participant reflections
Image: Bushy Hill Park, Teddington
Content: Tobias Mayer, 2016-2021
Page last updated: 27/09/2022
Note: This workshop was previously entitled Awkward Conversations.