5 sessions of 2.5 hours each
We live in a world of polarized views, biased or fake news, racism, fear, hatred and disconnection. Our positions on critical issues such as conflicts, climate change and refugees divide us. Too often we see aggression, passivity, judgement, criticism, avoidance and blame. We see people looking to sources that confirm their own views and negate opposing ones.
To develop solutions to the big challenges facing humanity in this time of division and disconnection, we need to develop relevant mindsets, approaches and skills: peacemakers, politicians, activists, CEOs, colleagues, friends and families alike.
Can we come together and hear each other when there is difference? Or will we continue to allow these societal challenges to disconnect and divide us?
About the course
The online course Engaging Constructively in Challenging Conversations (ECCC) is designed to give you the skills and confidence to have constructive conversations in the midst of differences and conflicts – honest conversations that build understanding and create connection rather than separation.
When we are in conflict with someone, our quick judgements and opinions can cause separation. In these moments when we feel attacked, hurt, challenged, in disbelief, it is difficult to stay open and be curious. What we do can change the direction of these conversations. These same conflicts can bring us closer and help us develop understanding of each other.
ECCC is an experiential and practical skills course. It combines looking inward to develop self-awareness, including short practices of mindfulness, and practical skills for building trust across divides.
The course invites participants to be self-reflective, self-aware and curious about their own reactions, stories, values, judgements and experiences and to practise skills for effectively navigating differences and challenging conversations.
ECCC explores question such as:
- How do we hear each other and be together when there is difference?
- How do we find a way to be with difference and work with it?
- What might be preventing us from being curious about the other?
- What are we attached to or afraid of?
- How do we effectively share what’s important for us?
- Anyone who is part of a team or workplace where important conversations need to happen well or where it’s important to engage constructively in interactions where there are conflicting views, values and approaches.
- This course is particularly valuable for anyone involved in advocating for a cause, working in the fields of peacebuilding or human rights, engaged in climate activism, community service, or politics.
This course would be valuable for you if you recently (or have sometimes):
- found yourself in a conversation where something was said that made you uncomfortable or with which you strongly disagreed
- found yourself handling or coming across division on big topics and had to engage in a conversation with conflicting views,
- stayed quiet and wished you hadn’t,
- became defensive or aggressive or reacted in ways you wished you hadn't,
- wondered if your passion about what’s important to you is pushing others away,
- moved away from someone with views or behaviours that you don’t like or don’t agree with.
For participants to:
- Be better equipped to sit with difference and the experience of being challenged by others’ opinions, values and behaviours.
- Gain a better understanding of their habitual reactive responses.
- Learn effective ways to engage with others and explore their perspectives.
- Develop the skill of deep listening to identify what is important for oneself and others.
- Build confidence and acquire the skills to express yourselves in ways that align with personal values.
The course is of 5 sessions of 2.5 hours each, starting on Tuesday, 23 January 2024 (9:00 am - 11:30 am CET) and running every Tuesday morning until 20 February 2024.
This is an online course, hosted on Zoom. Participants will receive the link on receipt of payment.
The course is offered in English (no translation).
Number of Participants
The course caters for 15 - 20 participants.*
The course costs CHF 250.- per participant.
This fee covers:
- the 5 online events.
- access to the contents of the book Everyone can Win by Helena Cornelius and Shoshana Fair
IMPORTANT: For participants based in Geneva with Swiss contracts, it is worth noting that there is a possibility of obtaining a subsidy from the Canton of Geneva through the Chèque Annuel de Formation (CAF) programme. More information about the subsidy and eligibility criteria can be found here.
Diana Damsa (Romania) holds degrees in Law and Music and has pursued postgraduate studies in Healing of Memories and Intercultural and Interfaith Communication. In 2004 she was inspired by Initiatives of Change (IofC)’s message that change in the world starts with change in oneself; she has been active in several IofC programmes since then. In particular, she has been involved with Foundations for Freedom in various capacities both as a member of the management and coordination team, as a designer and facilitator of youth and leadership programmes and of interethnic dialogues in Ukraine and Romania. She was vice-president of Creators of Peace, Managing Director of the "Tools for Changemakers" programme and worked for the Foundation as training programme manager until spring 2023. She is also a founding member and the President of the Centre for Social Transformation in Romania, which works to promote peace, build trust and empower women and Roma youth.
Njeri Ndiangui (Kenya) is a peace practitioner with a deep desire and commitment to empowering individuals and communities with peace building skills. She has 19 years’ experience in the peacebuilding field as a practitioner, trainer and facilitator. Njeri is passionate about constructive conflict resolution, community mediation, trustbuilding, interethnic and interreligious dialogues, forgiveness, reconciliation, inner peace and healing practices. She is also experienced in creating safe spaces for people who wish to start their transformative journey of healing from inner woundedness and traumas. Njeri is the Executive Director of Bridges of Peace Initiatives (BPI), a registered non-governmental organization (NGO) in Kenya, dedicated to empowering individuals and communities with peacebuilding skills, enabling them not only to serve as peace ambassadors but also to actively practice peace in their daily lives. Her passion and calling for peacebuilding is inspired by a very personal encounter, having been a victim of ethnic clashes. Njeri holds a Masters Degree in Peace Studies and International Relations.
What former participants said
This course gave me the tools and knowledge to give myself and my conversations partners the best possible chance to understand each other's perspectives, without the conversation being hijacked by emotions and limiting beliefs.
This course is a great way to improve your ability to be balanced in conversations in which you might normally be triggered, and to develop and maintain healthy relationships in all situations
What landed most for me was being utterly fascinated by what people say – less chance of being triggered, opens the door to genuine curiosity.
Thank you for reinforcing those oh so important skills and also the deeper learning of self-discovery. I have been so much more conscious of my conversational interactions and it has felt quite satisfying to deconstruct what has worked and what has not and why.
(*Please note that we reserve the right to cancel the course if we do not achieve the minimum number of registrations. Participants will be notified 7 days prior to the course starting if the course does not take place and will receive a full refund of fees paid.)