A Toolbox for Conflict and Peace. Member Spotlight: Fiona White

Fiona White is the Director of The Conflict Toolbox, an organization centered in New Zealand that provides conflict resolution skills, life skills coaching, workshops, and courses. Advanced Mediation course run by Ken Cloke in New Zealand inspired Fiona to join Mediators Beyond Borders International (MBBI) in 2011 and she has been a member ever since.  She found Ken’s approach to conflict resolution both refreshing and life-changing and wanted to learn more about the work of MBBI.  Fiona attended the MBBI conference for the first time in The Hague in 2017 and generally prefers to be a quiet supporter behind the scenes. 

Fiona has gained a plethora of skills on her journey through life.  She credits her parents for teaching her the essentials of compassion, listening, non-judgment, equanimity, and pragmatism; and noticed from an early age that people were drawn to her to talk through their problems.  She has had a wide variety of jobs, including zookeeping, retail, factory work, and marketing, as well as 12 years as a teacher (and later, management) of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). Her experiences in the classroom – managing diverse groups of individuals – prompted her to learn even more valuable ways to communicate. 

With a lifelong passion for language, her attention turned to Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication (NVC), a Diploma in Dispute Resolution (with a focus on Mediation), and mediator accreditation.  Following a training course in Conflict Coaching, Fiona felt that she had the tools to follow her gut instinct, quit teaching, and start her own business in 2010.  Originally known as Mediation Matters, after a few years Fiona realized that her particular strengths lie in Coaching, Training, and Consultation, and changed the name to The Conflict Toolbox, which better reflected the essence of what she provides. Since then, she has added Advanced Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner to her resumé.

Fiona’s work these days mostly centers around Self-care: the knowledge, tools, skills, and behaviors (including ways of thinking) that are most valuable for each of us.  She has created a Little Book of Self-care with some of these useful tools and ideas which she has shared as a free download on her website.  This work includes resolving intra- and inter-personal conflict (which has always fascinated Fiona), as well as helping people to heal from past traumatic events, resolve phobias, and create more internal peace. 

Her clients have included people from all walks of life, and Fiona’s mission is to share this knowledge and these tools with as many people as possible, to empower them to make even more useful choices (ones that ultimately create more positive peace).  In the future Fiona would like to take her Toolbox into teacher training colleges and into prisons, to equip the individuals with understanding and skills that will improve the quality of their lives and choices (and that they can pass on to their respective communities).  Her dream is to focus on creating even more peace within society, in particular through the vehicle of language: “Language is so critical in all aspects of our life, especially how we use it and its intention,” she emphasized.

One of Fiona’s favorite mantras relevant to the field of conflict resolution is: “Behind every behavior is a positive intention” (the NLP version), or “Behind every behavior is an attempt to meet a need” (NVC version).  She says that this is equally relevant to intrapersonal and interpersonal conflict and that when we take time to find out what that intention/need truly is, we gain compassionate understanding and can discover new, more useful ways of achieving that.

Article by Ben Lutz, MBBI writer