Patty and JD recently completed a series of five, four-hour workshops for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) geared towards campground hosts stationed at sites in Central Colorado. The focus of the workshops was non-violent communication, largely based on the pioneering work of Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. Last season, four hosts were assaulted in separate incidents, prompting the USFS to look at ways to protect their hosts and assist them in de-escalating potential conflicts.
The workshops were held in Buena Vista, Salida, Pueblo and Woodland Park. Some of the themes discussed included the differences between aggressive, assertive, passive and passive-aggressive communication styles; responding versus reacting; the different levels of emotions and how they influence our response to conflict, empathy: what it is and what it isn’t; and some basic techniques for de-escalating conflict when confrontations arise and start to heat up.
In addition to the teaching pieces, we engaged the groups in several fun interactive exercises, including introducing the Giraffe and Jackal puppets, and an exercise matching feelings with needs. The feedback we got from all five presentations was very positive, especially regarding conflict de-escalation. With more people than ever accessing our public lands, it is important for campground hosts and others interfacing with the public to develop clear and effective communication skills so that everyone can enjoy their outdoor experiences. We look forward to doing more presentations like this for other agencies and groups in the Central Rockies.