Peacebuilding: A Caritas Training Manual

Reina Neufeldt, Larissa Fast, Fr Robert Schreiter, Fr Brian Starken, Duncan MacLaren, Jaco Cilliers, John Paul Lederach

Created 11/29/2011



Work in peacebuilding and reconciliation requires perseverance and commitment. Often particular characteristics make people more effective at building relationships and implementing sustainable social change processes to help create a just peace. To develop this manual, an international group of expert trainers in peacebuilding and reconciliation were brought together. Key qualities they identified for effective peacebuilders were adaptability, non-defensiveness, empathy, creativity, the ability to model good conflict resolution skills and relationship behaviour, and being comfortable with ambiguity.

  • Adaptability means that you are prepared to change directions during a training and delve into issues that participants are most concerned with rather than strictly following your own pre-planned workshop agenda.
  • Non-defensiveness refers to being able to hear people’s critical comments without defending yourself and your actions as soon as the criticism is expressed. It is difficult to be non-defensive because our first reaction is to protect ourselves. However, when we are defensive, people react by either being more forceful about their opinion or refusing to contribute any more comments, which undermines the open atmosphere of a training.
  • Empathy involves relating to the emotions that an individual expresses, and then translating these emotions back to the individual and the larger group. Empathy means you are able to figuratively put yourself in the other person’s situation or “shoes” and understand what they are experiencing. An important part of being an effective peacebuilder is understanding what people are going through, and showing you understand their emotions and experiences.

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