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Skills for Change

Cooperative Communication

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Access to Power: A Radical Approach for Changing Your Life is required reading for this course. Buy your copy here.

Self-Paced Course: 

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We can often see what the other person needs to change -- what we can do to change our circumstances is often less visible. In cooperative communication, we learn how power affects our transactions, and in this analysis, we learn whether we have power over an outcome, whether we have influence, or if we are powerless over everything except our response. This analysis of power helps us negotiate conversations, relationships, and change processes so that we get as close to 100% of what we want as possible.

This course will introduce the Skills for Change methodology for dealing with hurt and unaired feelings and stories, as well as our approach to negotiating agreements. We'll talk about our history and orientation towards conflict, what we want out of conversations with loved ones, friends, neighbors and colleagues, and identify our strengths and weaknesses when having conversations for mutual understanding. We'll experiment with communication tools, and we'll learn about pitfalls and common mistakes.​

You can enroll in Cooperative Communication in one of two ways:

  1.  In the self-paced version, you interact with the audio, video, and reading online at your own pace. I provide written exercises to support your learning in each activity.
  2.  Or, participate in interactive webinars with other students. You have access to the exact same materials as the self-paced version, plus gain the opportunity to share your responses to the written exercises and receive comments from me and other class members.

​I'll do my best to provide whatever learning experiences you need in order to embody the material. It's my hope that in offering this course, you'll feel more confident having difficult, challenging, hard, leadership, relationship, parenting and any other kind of conversation that keeps you up at night.

People stay in relationships when it looks like they should leave, and they leave relationships when it looks like they should stay. From the outside, the benefits of staying or leaving might seem obvious to our friends and family, but each relationship has an internal heartbeat of its own, and people's decisions to stay or leave are extremely complex. Cooperative communication helps make those decisions much more clear - when we've taken away the internalized oppression and the external judgment, and cleared up the triggers and emotions that are clouding the discussion, we can see what's actually happening with our needs and also with our use of power. Cooperative communication helps us see what is happening in any given transaction with clarity. We then face our decisions with our wise adult consciousness. And we can offer ourselves compassion and understanding for how difficult and rewarding relationships can be.

In Skills for Change, we aim for cooperation in relationships whenever possible. The Cooperative Contract (No Secrets, No Lies, No Rescues, No Power Plays, or Ask for 100% of What You Want and Negotiate to Agreement) is the basis for our approach to communication. Our tools work under this umbrella - they're not ideal tools for hierarchies where there is a power "over" model, nor do they tend to work in inherently unequal relationships where there are vast power differences between parties. However, this course will help you analyze the power in your relationships and predict when our tools will work and when another approach is more appropriate for your circumstances and purposes.

Cooperative communication is fundamentally radical. We negotiate power directly by making it as transparent as possible.  We implement new agreements, observe our interactions, and when what we want changes, we communicate how we feel and what we want. There's a deep intimacy available when we are successful. Learning to communicate in this manner requires we understand ourselves and share our feelings. It requires we make space for the thoughts and feelings of others. We need to understand both our privilege and oppression, our strengths and weaknesses. Cooperative communication is hard. Cooperative communication is amazing.