Discover more from Max St John
Standing in the fire: a practitioner programme
Imagine what would happen if you spent a year leaning into conflict, with the backing of a committed group of fellow learners and a teacher who wants to tell you everything they know...
I’ve spent a decade teaching communication and conflict skills on short courses and retreats, online and in person across Europe and Scandinavia.
I still enjoy it and people contact me regularly asking when the next course is.
I have a need, one that’s been prodding me over and over again, quietly in the background.
What I can teach on a four-session course or three-day retreat has it’s limits.
Yes, there is only so much content I can pack in - but the learning that really sticks is what happens in the closed-loop process of risk taking, self-discovery and reflection.
So I’ve created a year-long programme and I’m looking for a small group of people to join me on it.
I’ve called it ‘Standing in the Fire’. It’s not perfect but it tells you exactly what we’re here to do.
By the end of the year, we will be a group of practitioners who can step into those heated moments with the calm, clear confidence that comes from having steady, inner ground and be able to host the conversations that would otherwise never happen.
All the details are below - if you’re one of these people, get in touch for a conversation via email@example.com
Standing in the Fire
Navigating conflict with skill and ease - a practitioner supervision and coaching programme.
A year-long, group coaching programme that will teach you how to unpick any conflict or difficult conversation with confidence and skill.
This is for coaches, trainers and facilitators, for leaders of organisations and community organisers who want to integrate this work into their practice.
Over the year you will continually refine your abilities through teaching, supervision and group dialogue.
By the end of it you will be able to navigate the subtleties and nuances of tricky human interactions in a way that adds impact and value to your work, and your life.
How it works
Each month we meet for two hours. I teach and we discuss, practice and unpick the material before setting a task for you over the coming month.
You will be paired with another member of the group and meet at least once between calls, using a clear and simple framework (that will be provided) for peer learning.
Every week you can submit an unlimited number of questions about the topic and its application and I will record a full response to all questions, for you to listen to where and when you want.
Before the programme we’ll have two, shorter calls to get to know each other and set out how we’ll work together over the programme.
At the very end we’ll meet to answer any remaining questions, make a plan for your practice after the course and close everything well, together.
What we cover
In the first six months we lay bear the underpinning drivers of difficulty in conversations and relationships.
Each month we focus on one of these pillars, learning how to understand it from an intellectual and technical perspective (what it means and how it works), so that you can then practice and develop your capacity for applying it.
If you’ve trained with me before, you’ll be familiar with some of these fundamental ideas and on this course we’ll go beyond those, into much more detail.
If you haven’t trained with me or you want to refresh your memory, you’ll have the choice of taking my short video course (included in the cost of the course).
Also included are my Needs Cards and Fight Cards, which we’ll use in the sessions.
Needs: How do you identify the subtle needs at play in a conversation or relationship? How do you make them clear and easy for people to understand? How do you find ways for all needs to matter?
Blame: How do you identify the subtleties of blame at play in human dynamics? How do you create the conditions for people to move past blame and engage empathy? How does blame provide opportunities for seeing wider perspectives?
Requests: How do you spot demands in conversations? How do you make clean and honest requests? How do you use barriers and resistance in conversations to get a better understanding of people and relationships?
Pause: How do you become skilled at staying balanced and clear in high-tension situations? How do you create more space for reflection in challenging group conversations? How do you make this your ‘default operating mode’?
Drama: How do you spot the invitations to drama as they show up in conversations? How do you identify your default roles in conflict and switch to a dierent way of relating? How do you name and work with the drama triangle as it shows up in groups?
Boundaries: How do we know when boundaries are being transgressed? How do we hold boundaries with skill and ease? Where do boundaries come from and how do we set healthy boundaries without creating barriers to new opportunities?
In every call you will bring any situation or conversation you are working with to use as a lens for learning and I will unpick it with you.
In the last call we will look back over all the content to identify areas you want to get better at.
What it costs
The figures below are a request, not a demand. My primary concern is commitment.
So, if you are fully committed and willing to invest in your development, but would like to talk creatively about money, please get in touch.
If you work in an organisation that will sponsor your training, the cost for the programme is £4000.
If you are self-sponsoring, as a self-employed coach or facilitator, the cost for the programme is £3000.
If you are a voluntary worker or community organiser, care worker or a teacher in a primary or secondary school, the cost for the programme is £2000.
You are committed to developing not just your understanding but your practice of working with conflict and difficulty.
You want to be able to apply this work in a way that brings added value, impact and/or income to the work you do.
You understand that the best way to learn is through application, dialogue and mutual support.
You can commit to a two-hour, monthly call with the group and at least a one-hour call with a peer, once a month.
You want to be held to account for your learning, so that you can get the most out of the programme and the group.
What people have said about this material and working with me:
"If you want a practical and deep understanding of how to successfully navigate the complexities of conflicts we find ourselves in, then Max is the guide you've been looking for."
- Tom, leadership coach and facilitator
"I now have courage - belief that there is no need to avoid conflict, only approach it in the right way. Like if you walk behind a horse it will kick you, but if you approach with care and consideration you can ride off into the sunset."
- Liz, Chief Executive
"Although I’m an experienced NVC practitioner, I’ve always felt that the method could sometimes be awkward and clumsy. This course helped me understand what was lacking from the NVC practice, plugging a gap in the method and amplifying its impact."
- Andy, coach
For most of my career I have been working with teams and leaders to understand and navigate complex change.
I’ve consulted with various UK Government departments, major multinational corporations and organisations working on climate change mitigation and social justice.
I’ve also been a founder, volunteer and facilitator on grassroots initiatives tackling social inequality, homelessness and environmental issues.
I developed my How to Fight Well programme out of my working experience, along with training in participative leadership, Nonviolent Communication.
My life as a father to two small children, voluntary work with children and young people as a forest school practitioner and my passion for teaching Doaist martial arts also deeply inform my work.
After a decade teaching communication and conflict on retreats and short courses, I want to teach as much of what I know, as I possibly can, to a small group of committed practitioners.
This course teaches - and goes beyond - the content of my ‘How to Fight Well’ programme, integrating the principles of Nonviolent Communication, neurophysiological theory, self-management and meditative practice.
If you’d like to know more about my work and my background, visit: