About Communication Skills Learning, Training, Sharing
Welcome the Blog of the New Conversations Initiative (which we might also have called “Curriculum Development For A More Cooperative World”). We are making a new start here, and carrying forward the work of the Journal of Cooperative Communication Skills at our previous web site. The blog format suits our intentions better, because Gene Knudsen Hoffman and I (Dennis Rivers) have always written for the general public rather than for a specialized, Communications Studies only, audience. Gene passed away in 2010, after a lifetime of inspired work on the theme of compassionate listening. This blog will provide a venue for publishing some of her timeless articles, as well as articles of mine and new contributions from participants around the world.
I find it a considerable challenge to be a teacher and advocate of cooperative communication skills in a world continuously at war. But I am inspired by the example of the two sides in the long running Northern Ireland conflict. After generations of armed conflict, the combatants themselves realized that they had created a world in which there was no hope for their own children. That gave them a powerful motivation to do a kind of peacemaking that seemed impossible at the time. In my own family, there were also conflicts that went on for generations, and I can remember the arrival of a baby girl being the impetus for the beginning of family peacemaking. We were either going to pass the troubles on to yet another generation, or we were going to have to start talking and listening to one another in new ways.
In this blog you will find the continuing efforts of the New Conversations Initiative participants to dream the impossible dream, which, it turns out, is not so impossible after all. Last year we reached about 140,000 people with free communication skills teaching materials, and if you Google for the words, “free communication skills workbook,” The Seven Challenges Workbook comes up at the top of the list. My only regret is that we are one of two or three rather than one of a hundred. Our job is to change that.
Dennis Rivers — March 2012