The CEDR New Dialogues programme is back following a successful inaugural training in October 2017 which saw 40 young leaders from the world’s of government, law, business and the voluntary sector receive training from CEDR. The CEDR New Dialogues programme offers a unique opportunity for young and emerging leaders to develop 21st Century, conflict management, negotiation, communication and leadership skills. This free programme is part of the CEDR Foundation (not-for-profit arm of the organisation) commitment to help the next generation of young professionals develop practical and progressive skillsets.
As part of the 2018 launch, we spoke to members of the inaugural New Dialogues cohort to get their thoughts on the programme, what they learnt and how it has helped them in their professional and personal lives. In the second of these interviews, we spoke to Eillot Boakes.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I have been working now in Local Government for just under two years, undertaking a variety of high-profile projects from multi-million-pound procurement to transforming our city’s cultural offering. Working in Project Management means that no two days are the same.
What made you want to apply for the New Dialogues Programme?
Most of my work involves dealing with people from across our organisation, often bringing change and new ways of working to established teams. Whilst being vital work, this can sometimes lead to difficult conversations with peers and senior colleagues. For me, the New Dialogues Programme looked like a perfect opportunity to learn more about how to handle these tricky situations, equipping me with the skills and techniques to manage these scenarios.
What was your main takeaway from the New Dialogues training?
For me , the most useful thing I have learnt about my experience on the New Dialogues Programme is understanding myself better. Particularly in tense or difficult interactions, it is easy to revert to our instinctive conflict management style and this can sometimes be detrimental to the situation. CEDR has helped me to better understand my own instinctive response so that I can identify my actions and adapt these to the situation.
How has New Dialogues helped you in your professional and or personal life?
I genuinely think it has helped me in both my professional and personal life. The tools explored during the programme around active listening have proved to be invaluable in a number of situations and I am building up my skills with every interaction.
One particular interaction shortly after the New Dialogues Programme first demonstrated to me the power of active listening. During a personal meeting with an external stakeholder to one of my projects, I realised that they were being particularly uncooperative and unresponsive to my viewpoint and this resulted in a lot of frustration. Rather than resorting to my normal position of immediately trying to find a solution, I saw this as a perfect opportunity to trial the lessons of the active listening seminar.
I started by listening carefully to their objections, which allowed me to identify some common themes and begin to understand the root cause of their complaint. I followed this with some open questions to learn more about their concerns and then used their own words to paraphrase and summarise their points. From this, it demonstrated that I had not only listened but also processed what they said and we progressively got to the route of their concern. Collectively, we could then identify ways around this problem, look at the potential solutions and come up with an answer that we were both happy with.
Most importantly, it helped me to build up a renewed level of trust and respect in our relationship which has made future interactions more productive. I now use this tool both in work and at home, really helping me to build strong bonds with those around me.
How would you sum up New Dialogues in one sentence?
For anyone looking to build better working relationships, this is the ideal programme.