Building Common Ground

During the week of February 2, 2015, Tony Kelly, an associate for The Centre for Social Response (CSR) based in Australia, held a week-long dialogue training called Building Common Ground with the NANA Shareholder Development Specialists (SDSs) in the NANA Anchorage office. The training was sponsored by NANA and Teck.

Building Common Ground teaches individuals how to effectively communicate with others by trying to see from their perspective and by slowing the pace of conversations so that one can hear what others are saying through their words, actions and body language. Attendees learn how to keep their own thoughts and personal opinions from influencing what they are hearing.

This takes a great deal of practice, so, the SDSs and members of the Red Dog Mine Community Relations team engaged in practice dialogues with each other during the training. They then learned how to guide conversations to empower individuals by helping them see possible solutions and how they can take positive steps toward the solutions.

Prior to teaching Building Common Ground to private, governmental and nongovernmental organizations around the world, Kelly was a senior lecturer in Community Work at the University of Queensland for more than 20 years and worked as a consultant to the Australian government, corporations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to help them find ways of working with communities. He worked with Oxfam Australia and with mining companies around the world on their community relations and human rights issues.

The training programs offered by CSR include three courses – Building the People Centred Approach: Dialogue for Community Engagement; Working with Communities: a Methodology of Engagement; and Managers Leading Development Practice. The NANA and Teck groups have completed the first two courses. "It's so important for NANA front line staff working in our communities to have proactive engagement skills," said Gia Hanna, vice president of Shareholder Relations. "We want to work side-by-side with our shareholders to help them find their own solutions, and their own way - everyone's path is different. This training gives our team the skills they need to take difficult conversations to the next level."