Peaceful dispute resolution at workshop

ReThink Red Deer wants to take the conflict out of communication.

ReThink Red Deer wants to take the conflict out of communication.

The local grassroots group has organized a two-and-a-half-day workshop on Nonviolent Communication at Red Deer College to be held Sept. 9 to 11.

Nonviolent Communication is about learning to minimize the likelihood of facing defensive reactions in others and dealing with critical or hostile messages without taking them personally, giving in or losing self-esteem. It’s about listening compassionately to yourself and others and making requests clear to reach fair resolutions.

ReThink Red Deer member Rene Michalak said the use of fluoride in Red Deer’s water is an example of a local topic in dispute.

“With respect to the fluoride debate, we’re seeing a lot more polarity for and against. How do we have that conversation without there being a certain level of blame or undermining of credibility?” Michalak said on Monday.

Earlier this year, Red Deer city council debated the merits of taking the fluoride issue to a plebiscite and is now waiting for public feedback to determine its next step.

Opponents say fluoride is a potentially harmful additive, while supporters say it is not a health risk at recommended levels and serves as a useful cavity fighter.

Nonviolent Communication is about “expressing our needs as opposed to blaming somebody else for not understanding us or hearing what we’re saying,” Michalak said.

The workshop will be led by Anne Walton of Calgary. She is a certified trainer with The Centre for Nonviolent Communication, based in San Francisco.

The workshop runs from 7 to 9 p.m. on Sept. 9, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 10, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 11.

The cost to attend has not yet been determined and will depend on the number of participants. Call Michalak at 403-505-4550 for more information or to register. The deadline is Sept. 2.

Participants are encouraged to read Nonviolent Communication, A Language of Life by Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of the centre, or watch Nonviolent Communication videos and interviews online. For information, go to