If you have ever wondered how one becomes a peacebuilder and succeeds as one, wonder no more. Terrell Holmes, Founder of The Good Org and Pollack Peacebuilding (PPS) Consultant, has some answers for all of us. He was not a peacebuilder in his previous professional life. However, Terrell has extensive experience engaging in organizational development with various companies. You can learn more about his career here.
In any environment where people are gathered, conflict is bound to follow at some point. This is why it is so important to have skilled professionals who understand how to address the root of various forms of conflict. For those on their journey to becoming successful peacebuilders, Terrell encourages them to be “clear and transparent with people.” He also suggests they learn to get people to uncover their motivations. As it turns out, great communication is key to “understanding the human side” before getting to the bottom of any conflict.
Peacebuilding in an organizational setting can take many forms. At PPS, organizations have access to coaching and peacemaking. Additionally, they have access to various forms of training that address the root causes of conflicts. In his consulting role, Terrell offers his expertise to provide peace coaching to business leaders. He works with an individual in leadership without hearing the employees’ side of the story. Yet, he is able to see great results.
Victories and Challenges in Peacebuilding
Based on Terrell’s experiences, one of the key aspects of being an effective peacebuilder is being able to walk away from potential clients. This is necessary if they are not willing or ready to go through the process necessary to reach a peaceful conclusion. This profession requires a high level of self-awareness for everyone involved. Those who do not possess that skill at the time a mediation or coaching session have to at least be willing to remain open to possible outcomes.
As in any profession, peacebuilding comes with many triumphs and some challenges. Terrell faces his main challenge when clients are “not willing to be honest…to talk about things that make them uncomfortable.” If there is no cooperation, the task of addressing ongoing concerns between individuals or within an organization becomes impossible. Fortunately, people often realize that there is great benefit that can result from peacebuilding efforts.
Every Little Change Helps
Knowing that change can happen and that “every little bit of change makes a huge difference” inspires Terrell. This hope for change is crucial for anyone seeking to build peaceful communities. Therefore, it is necessary when seeking peace within a home, an organization, or even a nation. Hope is also what has been driving Terrell lately in facilitating difficult conversations on race within Silicon Valley companies. According to him, seeing people transform as a direct result of his work demonstrates how important peacebuilding is.
So, what else do you need to get started as a peacebuilder? Terrell recommends “being authentic about what you are trying to pursue.” Additionally, he encourages peacebuilders to express their thoughts and ideas. Companies and individuals are more likely to reach out if they are aware of the work that you do. Terrell recently published an article discussing how companies can be better allies in the Black Lives Matter movement. The article received great feedback, which resulted in more companies inviting him to have these difficult conversations.
To summarize his work, Terrell says he is here “to bring peace, whether it is getting people to agree on how to move forward, getting people to get rid of their conflicts, or getting people to have difficult conversations.” The end goal for him is to break up discord. He finds that telling people about his goals leads him to more opportunities to build more peaceful communities.