By David J. Smith, August 20, 2015

For the conflict resolution and peacebuilding practitioner, be they working in domestic or international environments, acquiring a range of skills and abilities to assist those in conflict is important.  All too often practitioners are limited to one or two techniques to bringing about peace.   Today, a variety of abilities and approaches are needed to provide “full service” to those in conflict, be they in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania or Bethlehem, Palestinian Territories.  Practitioners working with those in conflict can benefit from pivoting from one tool to another to effectively promote a peaceful resolution.  As such, not just mediation, but facilitation, consultation, problem-solving, and other proven approaches are called for. An emerging strategy that  provides for flexibility in its utility and allows the practitioner to work with just one party is conflict coaching.

I recently completed a 3-day training course on conflict coaching offered by Dr. Tricia Jones through Conflict Coaching Matters, LLC.   My fellow colleagues in the program were from a wide range of professional disciplines, which only proves the potential of coaching including UN officials, federal ombudspersons, mediators in provide practice, human resources professionals, and military support staff.

Conflict coaching is designed to work with one party in a conflict to better understand the present situation, consider how it has impacted the individual, and most importantly, strategize on a vision for the future.  As Kathey Foskett, one of the trainers pointed out, a conflict coach is a “guide on the side,” rather than a “sage on the stage.”  Increasingly, individuals in both professional and personal situations are in need of a professional who brings both perspective and understanding on conflict, as well as “heart” that can assist the person dealing with the conflict.

As a mediator for over 25 years, I have longed for an approach that can be used in situations where there is the need to work with one party to improve outcomes that are in the party’s best interest. There are a number of good articles on conflict coaching that can be found online at Mediate.com. I would recommend this one by Robin Amadei who is based in Denver, CO.

If you are interested in exploring conflict coaching for professional and career needs, or in a personal situation, please contact me at davidjsmith@davidjsmithconsulting.com.  One of the benefits of coaching is that it can be done in person, but also remotely via Skype or other means.  If you are from an academic institution, particularly community colleges, coaching might be beneficial.  As a former professor and faculty chair, I can see the applications especially in situations where conflict exists between department chairs, deans, faculty and other leadership.

In the coming weeks, I will be posting more about conflict coaching, so keep reading my blog!