John Lof Leadership Academy (JLLA) goes virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic. During these difficult times, JLLA will be turning their Spring curriculum virtual using platforms such as Webex and Zoom. The group will be connecting members with training on conflict resolution, resource management, mentoring vs. micromanaging, and ethics vs. pragmatism. JLLA continues to work with speakers from and outside of UConn to lead these unique and highly individualized workshops.
On April 24, 2020, JLLA held its first virtual workshop titled conflict resolution. The workshop was planned by JLLA president Randi Mendes. This was the second workshop on conflict resolution for the group. She brought in speaker Donna Douglass Williams, J.D from the UConn Ombudsperson office. Donna has over 20 years of experience as an ombudsperson, attorney, mediator, trainer, facilitator, and presenter. She has also served as an Ombudsperson at the World Health Organization and as the Inaugural Ombudsperson for the Green Climate Fund.
Randi Mendes said that she felt that it was important to bring Donna into the workshop. “Conflict between yourself and others, as well as mediating conflict between those you lead can be a common occurrence.” She added, “Many, including myself, do not always feel confident in handling or approaching conflict. I felt it was important to give members of JLLA a platform to learn the skills they need to feel empowered to face it as future leaders.”
The two-hour training focused on changing the mindset of conflict and learning how to communicate effectively during the conflict. She challenged the group to look at conflict as a problem two people are trying to solve, rather than the person as the source of conflict. She taught the group the different types of conflict response styles in order to explain how to communicate with others who may approach conflict differently. These styles include competing, collaborating, compromising, avoiding, and accommodating. Finally, she emphasized using non-violent communication (NVC) as a form of communicating through conflict. NVC was developed by Marshall Rosenberg as a “communications technique interceded to frame conversations that results in mutual respect, understanding, and the peaceful resolution of conflict”.
Member Erik Ammermann said, “the theme of controlling your mindset and emotions when approaching conflict and is something I will be conscious of in future situations. A conflict does not always need to be viewed in negative connotations as I thought previously but as something unavoidable and inevitable to be used as an opportunity to resolve issues in one’s life and grow through.”