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 (2015) we reached about 190,000 people with free communication skills learning/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.  Thank you for making this web site a great success.  Gifts in support of this web site will help us continue to extend our reach.

Dennis Rivers — July 2015






Introduction (excerpt from The Stanford Daily, February 4, 2002 )

New studies look at forgiveness  —  by Gohar Galyan

To earn his doctorate in counseling and health psychology from Stanford in 1997, Fred Luskin had to write a dissertation. At the time, Luskin was furious with a friend. To complete his graduation requirement and to cope with the pain, Luskin researched and wrote about forgiveness.

“I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t forgive,” he said. “I was badly hurt by a friend of mine and it threw my world upside down.”

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Book Review by Gene Knudsen Hoffman  —  Summer 2002

There is a way the world can change from war to peace, from hatred to love. It requires a lot of effort, a lot of understanding, and it begins at home.

For centuries we’ve been told to practice it, that it’s healing for ourselves and the other, that it’s a way to manifest love and courage. It brings peace to the participants. It is a brave and noble thing to do, and — it can be very costly, costly to pride, to arrogance, to fear, to hate.

Michael Henderson has written the definitive book on it and it’s called: Forgiveness. Of it Desmond Tutu wrote, “A deeply moving and eloquent testimony to the power of forgiveness in the life of individuals, of communities, and between and within nations. It effects change — a powerful book.”

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