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Early retiree and career changer
“I worked as a community services liaison for the AFL-CIO for more than 30 years. When I took early retirement in December 2008, I began taking Conflict Management classes at North Lake to expand my future job skills. In my former job, I was sometimes called upon to mediate between labor and nonprofits, so I had some experience with conflict management.
“One of the best things that I realized as I took Conflict Management courses is that what I had learned informally on the job was pretty much correct. There’s just so much more to it — and I wanted to take the opportunity to extend my knowledge and get formal training.
“Dr. Tony Picchioni has such a wealth of knowledge from his experience as a therapist and his years as a mediator. We got the benefit of his experience knowing that there are life experiences that support the textbook theories.
“Anyone can benefit from these classes, not only at work but also in interpersonal relationships. One of the best skills that I learned is the art of active listening. That involves a process where you just listen to someone, without stopping and projecting your own answers on what they’re saying. When you disengage to think your own thoughts, you may lose sight of what the real issues are.
“My advice to anyone taking Conflict Management courses is to listen and commit yourself totally, embracing what’s required of you. Whether it’s role playing or interviews you’re being asked to do, when you participate fully, you’re really able to benefit from the class and the experience.”
Bob Miller earned a Conflict Management Specialist certificate from North Lake College.