What drove Nicole to study at university was her passion for different cultures. She started her studies in another field than mediation: languages, and holds a degree in Spanish and German from the University of Ottawa. Eventually, she ended up working in the field of training and development with Canada Post. She got the opportunity to travel abroad, and provided a lot of training on communication, listening skills, leadership, negotiation, etc. This was her first step into the mediation world. A few years later, she decided to get a degree at the Canadian Institute for Conflict Resolution.
Pioneer in bringing mediation into government offices
Nicole was part of the first conflict resolution practitioners to collaborate in building Informal Conflict Management Systems (ICMS) which became part of the Canada Public Service Labour Relations Act in 2005. These Informal Conflict Management Systems were designed to help resolve issues as quickly as possible, to prevent the escalation of conflicts and therefore, bypass long and costly grievance and complaint processes. This involved working with different stakeholders to provide training, conflict coaching, mediation, group processes among other services. Nicole spent over ten years working for the government to build these additional informal ways to prevent and resolve conflicts in the workplace.
From public services to work as an independent
“You seem to be working so hard for the government. My colleague told me: “Why don’t you work for yourself”.” This is what made Nicole have a click that it was time for her to work on her own. She has been self-employed for over twelve years and provides conflict and personal development coaching, and facilitates dialogues and group processes to build and strengthen relationships. You can access her webpage here. Even though she is independent, that does not mean she works alone. She sometimes partners with other practitioners for special projects. She has recently partnered with an Indigenous Elder and has facilitated learning circles to help public servants engage in a meaningful way with Indigenous communities and peoples in Canada. This has greatly impacted her and the way she works with people: “One of the things I hear back from participants is the importance of deep listening and of being open to different worldviews with humility. Something the learning circle profoundly caters to.”
Working on her own has not been so challenging because she can rely on a solid network of other mediators to whom she can reach out if she’s facing a complex case. She noticed, however, that recent cases have become more complex, mainly because of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. However that doesn’t stop her from enjoying and being committed to her work, as she explains: “On the surface, people have a lot of fears, and when driven by fear, they’re reacting so I take pleasure in helping clients move from a place of fear to a place of love, confidence and compassion, which I see as our true essence”.
In her everyday work, she also uses nonviolent communication/compassionate communication that she studied with Marshall Rosenberg, “Nonviolent Communication: a Language of Life” (2015). Nicole has three goals when entering a mediation process. The first is to create a space for people to feel safe to tell their stories. The second is that they can come to a place of understanding. And the third is that they can take some responsibility for their part into the situation.
The first time Nicole heard about Mediators Beyond Borders International was during the World Mediation Summit in Madrid, 2016. She appreciated the organization and signed up to join MBBI. Recently, she received a form from MBBI asking about her interest in working on specific projects, which she immediately filled in because she thinks it would be exciting to work with other practitioners worldwide.
Article by Sarah Vorms, MBBI Writer