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I just returned from an amazing conference of the IACP held in Minneapolis. It was a fantastic learning opportunity and chance to meet some of the best collaborative practitioners from around the world. I believe there were about 550 people in attendance, 48 of whom were from outside of North America.

The outgoing president is Canadian Nancy Cameron. I was so proud that we had a Canadian at the helm of this great organization and she served us well. I met Stu Webb who is the founder of the whole process when he decided that the Court process was not helping separating and divorcing parties. What a great visionary. Stu was honoured at the Saturday banquet. A video biography of him was shown which I understand from past president of IACP Ron Ouskey, will be available for purchase through IACP. I can hardly wait to show it to our practice group in Simcoe County.

There were many, many presentations and workshops – too many for me to highlight them all – but here are a few comments about some I attended.

Canadian and IACP Board Member Victoria Smith and IACP President Sherri Goren Slovin did an outstanding workshop called “Advanced Collaborative Negotiations”. They gave us insight into the theory of Collaborative Practice, the nature of “interests” and tools we can use as we practice the art of collaborative negotiations.

Cat Zavis of Bellingham, Washington taught a full day workshop on Compassionate (Nonviolent) Communication. She taught us so much. I especially enjoyed learning how to express empathy by exploring with our clients how they are feeling and what unmet needs are causing such feelings.

Daniel Shapiro from Harvard Law School and director of the Harvard Negotiation Project outlined the main principles of the book written by him and Roger Fisher called  Beyond Reason. I bought the book and am really enjoying it. They show how to use emotions in a disagreement to turn a disagreement into an opportunity for mutual growth.

The next conference will be in Washington, DC on October 28 to 31, 2010 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.

I certainly intend to attend. Put it in your calendar too!