Working with Conflict:
How to Skillfully Harness Contrasting
Points of View as a Catalyst for Learning and Growth

Course Description

In most collaborative environments, conflicts are feared and avoided. Yet the longer we go without addressing rising conflict, the farther away we move from each other and the most stuck we become in our positions. Skillful leaders must learn how to get the conflict out into the open and use it as a source of creativity and as a catalyst for learning and growth. The theories you will learn and the skills that you will practice in this course will increase your capacity to succeed in turbulent times by showing you how to work with differences in a group and turning destructive conflict into creative tension.

Much of the content of this course will be drawn from the Lewis method of Deep Democracy developed in post-apartheid South Africa and practiced in over 20 countries around the world. Deep Democracy is a psychologically based facilitation methodology particularly useful for working with relationship and group dynamics that are emotionally charged or marked by difference.

This training will provide the following:

  • A coherent understanding of how conflict emerges between individuals in groups and strategies for preventing conflict escalation

  • A simple 4-step approach to facilitation of productive discussions and avoiding common pitfalls in group communication

  • An alternative decision-making mechanism for groups and individuals that is more efficient than a vote and less time-consuming than consensus building

  • A model for inviting and hosting a group debate as tension arises in conversation

  • A step-by-step approach to dealing with a polarized issue one-on-one with a colleague, client, or partner

Following the training, participants will have new skills and practical tools they will be able to use immediately for handling tricky interpersonal and team dynamics. They will also be able to simply run better meetings that will result in better decisions.

Standard Course Length

  • Typically offered as a 2-day training.  

  • Also available in a series of ½-day or 3-hour sessions.  

  • An shorter (2 hour) introductory session is also available.


Please contact us for pricing information.

FAcilitated by

Paul Horton – Principal Member of The Athena Group since 2013. Paul is a leadership and strategy coach and organizational change professional with over 20 years of experience working with the public, private, non-profit, and higher education sectors.  He is keenly aware of the pressures decision-makers and leaders are under to deliver in the face of rapid change, uncertainty, budget and time constraints, and increasing demands from stakeholders.  Paul sees his work as helping leaders navigate complexity and change, lead with clarity, and achieve internal alignment and coherence. He also works with groups to help them become more adaptive and resilient and build and sustain a culture of trust, mutual respect, and on-going learning.

Paul’s work is grounded in both a theoretical and a practical understanding of systems thinking, organizational theory, and group (or “process oriented”) dynamics.  He specializes in using dialogue-based, participatory approaches to engage diverse perspectives, build social capital, and improve organizational outcomes. Paul is skilled at facilitating meetings where there is a high degree difference or divisiveness, and that generate personal insights and uncover innovative possibilities for moving forward.

Paul received his Master’s in Leadership in Complexity & Strategic Sustainable Development from the Blekinge Institute of Technology in Sweden.  He also earned a Certificate in Sustainable Business from Pinchot Graduate School. Paul is also a certified CoResolve instructor (CoResolve is an adjunct of Deep Democracy, a facilitation methodology for engaging conflict and working with differences).