Taught in a single evening, the Peace Model introduces the concept of conflict resolution in a simple step-by-step process that can be applied to teen-parent dialogue and divorce preparations. Margaret Casarez of Mount Adams originally designed the concept to diffuse conflicts in the workplace.
After showing the model to friends and a number of clinical psychologists, Casarez says their feedback encouraged her to come up with a universal use for the tool to resolve other types of problems. While ideally both parties involved attend the workshop for full understanding, she says a single party can still resolve conflict by applying the model.
"The model draws on basically emotional intelligence, communication skills and conflict resolution skills," she says. "People get a new way of viewing issues. Instead of just looking at how they feel about an issue or instead of just looking at what the facts are and not thinking about what they feel, they immediately have a mental shortcut or process that they can separate the facts and feelings and understand what they want -- so that when they make their choice they know it's going to work for them long-term."
Because the model takes emotion into consideration during the resolution process, the tool is an excellent option for those in the process of getting a divorce, Casarez says. Some couples spend huge sums of money in lawyer fees and mediation because those handling the divorce tend to focus on only the facts, leaving emotion out of the equation.
Casarez says one couple spent two years and $17,000 in legal fees before one party decided to attend one of her workshops. After applying the model to their situation, the couple was able to figure everything out in a single afternoon.
"We reason with our feelings, and unless you realize that and can grasp what part of the matrix it plays you're going to end up with something that's either forced on you or forced on the other person -- or when the feelings come back to the surface, it turns out not to be the answer at all," she says.
Emotion plays a big part in divorce costs soaring, according to attorney Eric Gunderson. Costs can go from $500 to $600 in simple cases to tens of thousands of dollars in more complex cases that where involve child custody and large assets, he says.
In order to keep lawyer and mediation fees at a bare minimum, couples should keep all their paperwork and have all the details of separation worked out before they consult an attorney, Gunderson says.
"In general, I think it's better to do it by agreement because at least you know what you're getting -- even if you have to give up some things to get there," he says. "If it's at all possible, that's the way to do it, and that's certainly not always possible because both have to be reasonable to do that."
Gary Lewis, vice president and general manager of WMOJ (94.9 FM), wishes he'd discovered the Peace Model prior to his divorce. He says he and his ex-wife would have saved thousands of dollars, years of time and peace of mind. Lewis first learned the model several years ago when Casarez came to him as an executive coach.
While the model proves useful at the workplace, Lewis says it has become second nature as he applies it to every facet of his life.
"As a single parent, it's worked wonderfully because I have a teenage son, so in my relationship with him it's been invaluable," Lewis says. "At the beginning you're sitting down and charting it out, but it eventually becomes something that's just part of how you view the world, how you see people, how you deal with other people and it becomes much more innate."
Brad Woodard of Chicago also sings Casarez's praises after using the model for the Web development department of a Chicago real estate management company. Following a seminar for 20 individuals with different opinions, Woodward says the model allowed them to come to a consensus. The group left the session focused on effecting real change and with a renewed sense of camaraderie, he says.
"Her approach is so successful, I find myself using the Peace Model from time to time and feel fortunate to be able to avoid stumbling through some messy situations that would have been a lot tougher to negotiate without it," Woodard says.
Since 2000, Casarez has taught more than 20 classes to groups of 20 to 30 people at a time. With a background in psychology and business, she combined the two disciplines to form a practical and basic structure prompting people to feel empowered instead of helpless when conflicts arise.
"People come away with increased self-awareness around their emotional intelligence, better communication techniques and a new perspective on conflict issues," Casarez says. "So there's a paradigm shift resulting in a new way of seeing problems -- they are no longer negative, they are now opportunities."
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