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Dialogue Partners

DP Interview: Courses in San Diego

The Dialogue Partners’ team is looking forward to a few great days of learning at the IAP2 USA Skills Symposium in San Diego February 21-25. Managing Consultant, Stephani Roy McCallum, will be teaching IAP2’s Emotion, Outrage and Public Participation course and Consultants Kim Hyshka and Erin Pote will be delivering “More Tools for Your Community Involvement Toolbox.” Read on to learn more about these courses and how they might benefit your professional development and P2 practice.

Can you name a highlight from your course, or something unexpected people can look forward to?

STEPH (EOP2): I think the first “aha” moment comes when people understand that there is more to intense emotional reactions than people being “difficult” or opposed, and that there is some solid research about what triggers that reaction. This helps provide a foundation for thinking about stakeholders and communities in a different way, and allows perspective to shift from others being challenging to thinking about how we are each impacting each other in the system.

ERIN (More Tools): Learning about and experiencing new practical approaches and techniques to really bring people together – especially useful for situations of complexity or high emotion.

How did this training course come about? What was your motivation behind developing it?

STEPH (EOP2): I’ve spent most of my career working in situations of high emotion, controversy and conflict around the globe, and in 2009 had the privilege of leading the development of this course for IAP2, with my co-developers John Godec and Mary Hamel. The course is a marriage between IAP2’s best practices in public engagement, and the work of Peter Sandman in reducing public outrage. We’ve brought those 2 fields together and combined the very best of that learning into an experiential training.

KIM (More Tools): At Dialogue Partners we’ve heard over and over again from participants in our trainings, and from clients and communities we work with, that they need some new ideas and new ways of working with participants on high stakes issues. IAP2 Techniques offers a wide variety of techniques to choose from, but we’ve found ourselves going back again and again to these 4 new techniques we’ve created for engaging people on issues that matter. You don’t need specialized skills to design and implement them – and we know from experience that they really work.

Have you been exploring new forms of delivering training (e.g. online or hybrid formats)? How is in-person training still relevant? Or is it?

STEPH (EOP2): All of IAP2’s training is in-person training. There is real value in working on the really “hard” stuff while you learn with others and experience something new. When we are dealing with something like intense emotional reactions, there is nothing like the in person experience to shift perspectives and open up the opportunity for learning.

ERIN (More Tools): We think that online training presents amazing opportunities for self-directed learning, for collaboration over enormous geography and interest area, and for easy, accessible and affordable learning. At Dialogue Partners we are developing a series of online training programs in public engagement, for launch in 2016. Right now, we already implement online learning modules for many of our in-house training courses. So stay tuned!

What is one take away you hope participants would gain from taking this course?

STEPH (EOP2): That there are other ways of working – beyond what they are doing now. That there are strategies and approaches that can diffuse, embrace or address the challenges communities and organizations are experiencing. And that it is possible to work together with others in ways that support everyone to participate – if you try something new.

KIM (More Tools): That working in new and different ways with communities on issues that really matter takes a new way of thinking about engagement AND a new way of engaging people in conversation. Once you’ve got that, anything can happen!

What makes this course different or unique?

STEPH: EOP2 is highly experiential, and draws directly on participant and instructor experience. There are no worksheets, checklists or forms to give you the right answers for controversial public engagement – this is about you, your organization and the people you want to work with.

ERIN (More Tools): The 4 public engagement “tools” or methods that we introduce you to are based in conflict transformation theory, and include creativity, constructive and productive sharing of emotion, and real opportunities to deeply understand each other. That is the foundation for all our work – and we believe in sharing what we have learned, and working with others to learn from their experiences. This training is experiential, but also grounded in reality.

Can you think of one word or phrase that you’ve heard people say over and over again in this course?

STEPH (EOP2): Not just one! How about a couple: Say Sorry. Practice empathy. Understand communities better. Try something new.

KIM (More Tools): I am walking away with new approaches to try in my work right now!

If you had to describe this course in 150 characters or less, what would you say?

STEPH (EOP2): Learn new ways of working & being, & create an environment for positive momentum WITH your stakeholders. Instead of working in opposition & going nowhere. #EOP2.

ERIN (More Tools): Improve your skills & knowledge about how to work with communities in ways that bring people together.

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