It all began in grade school when classmates asked for my help in resolving their playground disputes.
Allow me to explain, since I was a small child I have been fascinated and terrified by conflict. Our family dinner table was a battlefield and I, as the only child, sat between my parents and quickly became a conflict expert (at deflecting and creating it anyway).
Since those early days I studied Accounting and Human Resources at UBC because I wanted to bridge these two seemingly opposing disciplines. Then I became a Hotel Food & Beverage Director and Hospitality consultant and found that conflict followed me wherever I went.
Life felt reminiscent of my elementary school days as a third party to many workplace conflicts. One colleague even asked me to help him prepare for his divorce and custody proceedings which changed everything for him and me. He fared much better through his process and I had finally found work that didn’t feel like work.
I now teach Hospitality Management at Vancouver Island University and have completed courses in conflict resolution at the Justice Institute of British Columbia. What I learned about conflict resolution underlies everything I teach and supported me through my own inter-generational family conflict which included the emotionally ladened process of mediating with my parents, yes, the same ones from the dinner table all those years ago.
Here are a few more juicy details about me in case you are curious…
Three things I’m deeply proud of (that I wouldn’t necessarily put on me resume):
- I am married, which, given that I grew up believing that marriage was a battle to be won, is my greatest achievement and still very much in progress;
- I have separated from my family of origin physically and emotionally even though it took decades to do so (which I was embarrassed about for a long time); and
- I practice and perform stand-up comedy where I get to point out the unflattering, but funny, ironies in myself and my life.
My professional credentials include:
- A commerce degree from the University of British Columbia;
- Completion of conflict resolution and mediation skills courses at the Justice Institute of British Columbia; and
- Certification in the delivery of True Colors personality dimensions (which really helps with conflict because I can understand people in a way I couldn’t before).
Here are three more fascinating but little-known facts about me:
- It took me an embarrassing number of attempts to learn Non-violent Communication before I actually started applying it (if you haven’t heard of NVC I highly recommend it);
- I live in an Airstream travel trailer with my wife and two fur children – road trip!; and
- I believe that humility is the single most important character trait for growth and happiness (and I even have some sometimes).
And finally, if you’ve got this far, here’s a secret about me that I haven’t been ready to share until now:
For my own sanity and growth I’ve needed to acknowledge the racist and sexist beliefs that I held growing up because they guided my behavior and thought processes.
I wasn’t always a very nice person and I didn’t even know these beliefs were inside of me until my wife was kind enough to point them out.
I’m now learning to use my position of privilege in society to be of service to those who don’t have it.
Words cannot express how fortunate we are to have … work[ed] with you! I so value your … sense of humour.Shelby M.