Rotary District 7620 held a workshop on Sept. 22 called “Conflict Transformation: A New Approach to Peace.” The workshop helped attendees learn to “transform” conflict in their business, community service and personal life.

The facilitators for the session were Dawn Miller Sander and Nicole Perrotta, experienced trainers with Transformation Associates. Sander and Perrotta work in the corporate market helping businesses and their employees better cope with conflict in the workplace.

The event served the double purpose of training participants to better transform conflict in their lives while at the same time serving as a fundraiser for eradicating the wild polio virus, Rotary International’s No. 1 priority.

The cost of not transforming conflict is huge. Eight themes for quantifying cost were presented, including costs to medical health, individual psyche, team behavior, wasted time, legal and dispute costs, customer relationships, human resources and organizational development, and counterproductive work behavior. In fact, as presented by Sander and Perrotta, organizations with 100 employees experience an annual productivity loss due to conflict of $225,000.

Workshop Benefits Polio Plus

There were 80 attendees at the all-day workshop, held at the Charlestown Retirement Community. Erikson Living, the owner of Charlestown, also was the workshop’s presenting sponsor. With Charlestown donating the room for the event, Erikson Living making a donation as presenting sponsor and Transformation Associates donating their time as trainers, 100% of the net proceeds from the day were donated to Rotary’s Polio Plus program.

On a worldwide basis, all Rotary donations to polio eradication, up to $35 million each year, are matched two-to-one by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, so the Peace and Conflict Transformation workshop resulted in a $24,000 contribution to end polio.

Attendees learned that there are three basic styles that individuals and families have for dealing with conflict, which are termed “avoidance,” “collaboration” and “aggressive.” During the program, the facilitators helped everyone to recognize what their particular style was for dealing with conflict, and then taught them the CALM method for not losing one’s temper and remaining in control of one’s emotions in a stressful conversation.

Coping Methods and Inspiration

The CALM method empowers users with four quick steps to remaining calm, anytime or anywhere. “C” stands for taking cleansing breaths and having a coping statement. “A” stands for assessing the situation and asking questions. “L” stands for listening to your heart. And “M” stands for making a choice.

There was much discussion about whether it was worth it to “be right” in a particular situation, or to “be happy” in the same situation. Sander and Perrotta taught the class how to develop their individual coping statement, with the important provision that it should begin with the words, “I am” and it should be positive. An example was, “I am a calm and inspirational person.”

One of the highlights of the day was lunch speaker John Nanni, a Rotarian from District 7630 who is a polio survivor. Nanni spoke from a wheelchair, discussing polio and what it means to get post-polio syndrome. His personal story was one of hope and determination, and he helped the Rotarians present to put a face on the devastating disease.

Polio Nearly Eradicated

Rotary and its strategic partners in polio eradication, including the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control, UNICEF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, are making great progress in the fight to eradicate the wild polio virus. Last month, the entire continent of Africa was declared polio free, meaning that there were no new cases of polio caused by the wild polio virus in the past year.

There are now only two polio endemic countries in the world: Pakistan and Afghanistan. The virus will be considered eradicated when there are no new cases in the world for a three-year period.

To make a donation to eradicate polio, visit the Rotary International web site at and click on Give. There is an option to make a donation specifically to Polio Plus.