Conflict management: "A new world that took me completely by surprise"
Graça Ricardo, communications and security advisor for Helvetas in Mozambique, took part in cinfo's online conflict management workshop. She talks about her experiences during the four half-days and tells us what she learned.
“When I was first offered a place in the conflict management training, I remember agreeing with a very nervous smile. I was worried about the English because it is not my mother tongue and I didn't know what I was getting myself into. Until then, I had never dealt with the topic of conflict in depth, neither in my professional nor in my private life.
I could write a whole novel about how much this experience has changed me. Participating in this training was a step out of my comfort zone into a new world where I discovered completely unknown things about myself. It was an incredible experience because every topic brought something new to light.
While it was about dealing with conflict, I think it has given me the necessary tools to avoid getting into a situation of conflict in the first place. Conflicts often arise due to a lack of communication skills: perhaps someone expresses themselves badly, or there is a lack of attention so that one or the other party feels ‘attacked’.
While it was about dealing with conflict, I think it has given me the tools to avoid getting into a situation of conflict in the first place.
What was particularly surprising for me was the realisation that while the messages we communicate are usually incomplete, they contain enough elements to influence the reaction of the receiver. I can now formulate more complete and specific messages without being rude – I don’t have to stay silent simply to avoid giving offence.
Another topic I found very valuable was the ‘values and development square’, which showed me how to balance virtues and values to bring a cordial, amicable effect to my interactions with others. This self-awareness exercise helps us to avoid extremes in our responses to and interactions with people.
It was not only the content that was interesting, but also the medium. I had already used Zoom for virtual meetings, but to use it as a training participant was new for me.
Compliments are due to the people responsible for the facilitation, as they managed to create a very dynamic environment for group interaction. The ten participants from around the world were able to interact effortlessly and naturally across the geographical, social and cultural distance. As we live in pluralistic societies, it is important to keep socio-cultural differences at the fore and avoid judgements until we have understood all the facts."