Pivot Fellows Develop Conflict Resolution Skills in Negotiation Works Course

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A Pivot Fellow pictured in a Negotiation Works class session

In class twice a week, Pivot Fellows become cousins, managers, landlords, and friends. Through dynamic roleplay exercises, participants build the critical interpersonal skills needed to navigate difficult situations at home and in the workplace.

D.C. nonprofit Negotiation Works has been a crucial contributor to the Pivot curriculum since 2020, teaching a unique course on conflict resolution. The course equips Fellows with tools they need to smoothly navigate conflict and advocate for their needs.

Founder and Executive Director Melissa Reinberg says the course’s personal and hands-on approach is what makes it unique. After studying negotiation skills and concepts, Pivot Fellows practice using different scenarios, such as a dispute with a landlord or disagreement with a family member.

“What I think is really key to what we do is having the Fellows think about how to apply the negotiation concepts that we present in class to whatever they’re dealing with in their own lives,” Reinberg said.

The course serves three purposes: to provide a framework to navigate conflict, to give Fellows the practice they need to develop their interpersonal conflict skills, and to help Fellows better understand their own personal conflict resolution styles. Together, these skills boost participants’ confidence and prevent conflict escalation or avoidance.

“It’s an interesting class because they provide you with certain tactics and strategies when it comes to negotiating, which is something that’s not only necessary in business, but necessary in life,” Fellow Damon Donelson-Bey said. “I’m enjoying it immensely.”

Negotiation Works’ strategies are beneficial for anyone but are particularly important for those in the process of reentry. Reconnecting with family members, facing new pressures, and reentering the workforce all present situations that call for strong interpersonal skills.

“When you’re coming home, it’s good to have these skills because now, you’re in this society where you have to speak to people. You have to know what to say, and when to say it — you have to know when to hold, when to fold,” said Pivot Administrative Coordinator Tyronda Ferrell, who took the class as a Pivot Fellow last year.

The class combats one of many overlooked barriers to reentry: self-advocacy. Pivot’s Negotiation Works class fosters development of interpersonal skills Fellows can personally implement starting on the first day of class. The ability to preserve one’s own interests while practicing healthy and successful ways to navigate conflict are key to Fellows’ reentry and entrepreneurial or professional pursuits.

 “There’s kind of an immediate recognition that ‘This is something useful to me, and this is something that I can use right away, and that I can see results,’” Reinberg said. “I think all those pieces are what makes the classes really useful and impactful.”