While working for nearly a decade as a solicitor in South Africa, I became more and more uncomfortable with what I was doing. I decided to move away from the legal system’s adversarial system of reward and punishment into mediation and training work which is more aligned with the kind of world I want to be part of. The principles and consciousness of Nonviolent Communication were my inspiration for setting up a partnership called Language that Works (www.languagethatworks.co.za) based in Cape Town that offered mediation and communication training.
At the time, we were the only South African business that was sharing NVC based skills. Due to family commitments, I moved to Australia in 2017. I also have experience as an Ayurvedic health and lifestyle counsellor and yoga teacher and enjoy bringing silence and spaciousness into the facilitation process to balance the more active elements
My name means “listener” and this has definitely been a theme throughout my life. I have a passion for supporting individuals and groups to enjoy a more life-enriching way of communicating and connecting, whether it is in the course of a mediation, facilitated conversation or a group decision making process.
In group work, my Australian partner and I facilitate groups that are looking for a more effective or conscious way to communicate or make decisions. The Convergent Facilitation process we use builds greater commitment and engagement with the chosen solution and increases the likelihood of cooperation. We can support your group to make decisions in a way that makes sure everyone’s needs matter, while still maintaining efficiency and focus. We also provide training to help ensure that your group meetings are engaging and inclusive even after a decision has been made.
When I first came across Nonviolent Communication in about 2011, it was as if all the pieces of the puzzle I had been struggling with, fell into place. Finally I had a model that was simple enough to grasp within a few hours and yet deep enough for me to continue growing with it for the rest of my life. There are still no certified trainers based in South Africa so a lot of my learning was from books and online and through connections with the few people there that had done trainings internationally. And of course, when I started sharing the little I knew in trainings and mediation, my learning grew in leaps and bounds. Since coming to Australia, I have been able to join in a bigger NVC community and benefit from the certified trainers here.
Trainings offered by Samantha Wittenberg
I offer trainings in Effective Communication for small businesses or groups in a time of crisis or change, either on their own or as a complement to the mediation process.
Feedback from trainings I have offered:
“I have gained more than just learning to communicate better. Being able to connect with the two of you made the process though difficult at times for my own vulnerability, much easier because of the vulnerability and sincerity you displayed. I am happy that we could share in this way.
I have felt the impact especially in my interactions with my fellow employees. Our first management meeting was a resounding success with clear decisions being made. I have realised that having one’s own needs fulfilled first is important and I have learned to articulate my needs so much better. This has enabled me to listen and meet the needs of those that I interact with better. I try to reflect accurately what is being shared with me but I still find myself wanting to sympathise from time to time.
I think that my jackal responses have decreased but this is me marking my own exam paper! Overall I have experienced from the others who have completed the training, a level of kindness I have not experienced before and an acknowledgement of each other as human beings.”
Colleen du Preez, Financial Manager at The Hydro, Stellenbosch
Convergent Facilitation (collaborative group decision-making process)
General facilitation and Effective Communication training
Codependency couple coaching
Feedback from mediation participants:
“It was a great challenge to face issues that have caused ongoing conflict and to talk them through after so much pain and trauma has been experienced around them. So I was very grateful for the supportive environment Tara and Samantha created. I felt truly held. It was like they were providing a bridge across an abyss. Processing the traumatic issues in the framework of this mediation helped to neutralize some of the energy around them, allowing a fresh perspective on them. It also allowed levels of forgiveness to happen.” – Helena , freelance writer and filmmaker
“A third party introduces a level of calm and has a defusing effect that has been elusive in the past”
“Samantha’s clear interjections, holding the conversation to task, application of a communication framework
Andrews reflections help with clarity and having two people in the room prevented heated conversation more than I think one person would have”
“I appreciated that you two gave your attention to us to help with a private problem, that you make yourselves available to us, that you both listened and concentrated so well, and that you absorbed the sharp words with outward calmness and generosity, that you have a coherent method.