Director of the Pacific Family Mediation Institute
Topics: interpersonal or small-scale communication, values, language
Interviewed by Julian Portilla — 2003
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Q: So, can you give me a brief overview of your work?
A: I work as a mediator and a person who facilitates. I've been in involved with the education and training of 3rd party impartials for over 20 years. Before that I was involved with projects that had to do with literature and writing. My degree originally was in literary fields and philosophy and job study. Then, I went on and got a master's degree in counseling and right after that, went into work that had to do with facilitation and third party training of mediators along with other professionals to work with other people going through divorce issues, parenting issues, elder care and so on. So, I've been involved with the whole area of inter-personal relations and getting assistance. I've watched the field expand and have been very involved in the movement to include legal parameters and lawyers in the process.
I've been involved in the creation of ADR sections of bars and so on. What's come to interest me over the years and especially now, is the field has become more involved with the law. In a sense, the law and legal professions have tried to include professions such as mediation and fields such as mediation as the practice of law, yet they exclude the people who were originally involved in putting the field together. I've looked more and more at the language of the field and how that's changing and what can be done in the course of working with parties that will assist them in understanding what's driving them to the conflict, so beneath interest. Usually, we look at where are their positions and look at their interests and their needs.
I'm now looking at the biological factors of the emotions underlying what comes out as a positions or even as an interest and what emotions are driving them whether it be fear, or anger or frustration or happiness. Basically, the roots of what's creating the responses. In other words, there's been an attempt in many ways to look at the field rationally, as problem solving. OK, we'll define the problem, and we'll search out all possible ways of looking at it, we'll brainstorm and so on. But in many conflicts, and I suspect many that are enduring or intractable,
we can do all the reasoning we want while on the road to finding solutions, and we may find several solutions, but the same issues are going to bubble up again because the emotions driving people to the place where the conflict explodes are going to remain. The passages that lead people to react in a certain way every time are there. And I don't think we are addressing that adequately as we look at the field of conflict resolution.
So whether I work in a micro-chasm, such as with a family, or whether I work in a multi-party dispute or as a facilitator, or as any sort of intervener, I want to know more about, first of all, my context in culture and what I bring and where my fears are. Where my angers are, where I'm coming from, no matter how much I say that I'm impartial, where am I coming from, because I expect that my interventions at least in part, are going to be triggered, way back here. And even if it doesn't come out blatantly that way, the parties with fears in certain areas, will sense that. So that if I come in with an American background as a negotiator into a Palestinian/Israeli conflict, they're going to want to know about me and my point of view. I couldn't come in unless I was in some way imbued with the cultures where the different sides are coming from. That I not only knew something about it from the inside, but I knew something about the options in their belief system that would allow for resolutions, other than the ones they've come to in the past, whether they be temporary. So that's where I'm looking philosophically. In a sense I'm looking at psychological antecedents and what we carry forward. I'm looking to bring that into my work and into the field in hopes that that will move us forward.
I'm looking at language, what metaphors and conveyors of meaning we are using when we address parties. My sense is that over the past 18 years or as we've developed theory in the field is that
we've used the exact same type of metaphors over and over again and that these metaphors in a sense, limit where people can go, in coming to agreements or even having the discussions and facilitating the issues. The boiler plate language that we're using whether it be the playing fields in terms of leveling a playing field, or in terms of game strategy or whether it is in terms of dividing pies, that what we're using from one person to another through the field, that these are very limiting. These aren't the types of metaphors that will carry us.
What I'm not saying is that we should go to insisting that our parties transform themselves in some ways. In other words, I'm not saying that I think the answer to this is some sort of transformative model that doesn't look at a well-reasoned problem solving approach.
What I'm looking at is the whole tenor of the language. I don't see moving us to a spiritual realm, I see moving us in a way that's meaningful to parties in a dispute. That if they come from say an Islamic background or they come from a background that's of a minority in this country, from a population that's been marginalized, that we look at the values within there. And find out what if those values not only can lead to aggression and war, but what if those values can lead to cooperative solutions and what is the language of that dynamic? So that's a little bit about where I'm coming from
Q: Let's talk first about the piece, sort of self-analysis or self-appraisal of the third party being involved in a dispute. There are some models, like the neutral third party outsider model, where a facilitator will come in knowing very little about either of the parties and just sort of focus on the process and help them through a conversation, but you're saying that's not enough for a mediator or a facilitator or some sort of third party intervener to have to come into a conflict.
A: That's true.
Q: So what do you mean? You said that you need to be imbued with both sides. How do you come to that and judge? That's a real interesting idea. I'd like to hear more about it.
A: I feel like to come into a dispute or a discussion that entails issues from many different sides, that if I'm the facilitator, I want to have a good idea of really the heart of the issues from the parties before I come in. Not from a textbook, but really, I want to hear from the parties. I want to do a lot of pre-meeting work in a multi-party dispute, even in a family dispute. To know what the heart of this is, what are their feelings, where are their fears? And I want also in that context, to look at my own, am I coming into this afraid that one party or another may blow up the whole world, that if somehow if I don't help them resolve this issue, that I'm at stake too, in terms of my own issues? What is my interest in the outcome? Not in terms of only monetary interests, which is the way it's mostly usually been looked at but how am I involved emotionally in this process? If the Arabs and the Israelis blow up each other, how is that going to affect me, and what is my stake in that, what do I think about that? Before I go into that kind of dispute, I want to know something about that and I think it's only respectful that the parties have some idea of where I'm coming from if it's relevant. So that's a little bit about that area.
Q: Why? Why do you feel that way? Why do you need to know that?
I feel that unless we can come in and recognize that we are apart of the dynamic that when we come in there is no truly impartial position. Once we come in and begin to interact with people, we are in the dynamic. So I think we're blind siding ourselves if we think that we can come in and be as though we are behind a wall in a science experiment, I don't believe we can. Even in that kind of experimental work, especially in the social sciences, the awareness that someone is behind the wall, tailors the responses. So when you're there in person, you can't realistically think that that does not have an effect and change the context and the climate in which agreements can be made, or not made as the case may be.
I think unless we are involved when we come in, we are objects of suspicion. I think right now, in 2003, we are suspect; we are suspect all around the world. So how are we going to go on with our word all around the world? And I think the only way we are going to do it is by making ourselves more transparent and known individually. That means getting our fears, our concerns on the table with the parties along with whatever expertise we feel we may have to offer. Maybe that will be helpful and maybe that will not be, but I think that decision to be involved needs to be a joint decision, so we're in a sense part of the circle at the table. We're not at the pinnacle of a triangle with two parties, in some measure, hopefully equi-distant apart. I think that's a very unrealistic expectation, and I think as we look toward a more global not only economy but more global interactions that we need to think of ourselves as all part of a circle.
Q: You mentioned metaphors, and that a lot of the metaphors that we use, I mean we, as the conflict resolution community (not to go into names, but that's what I'm calling it), you think that some of them are stale, and that we need fresh ones, can you elaborate on what language you think is sort of not as creative as it should be and where we should go with that?
A: I think we need dynamic metaphors that give a sense of what good resolutions can bring. I think in using game theory to describe what we do and the strategies is trivializing what we do. I just read an article, it happened to be in USA Today, on how game metaphors trivialize war, and that we've essentially made it a game and a spectator sport, to the point where young children walk by and say what's the score, when they're counting up bodies. It does demean what happens to human life I think philosophically that is where we have come to, but I also think realistically, we've created spectators by the use of game theory, in terms of strategies that we use and so on. And carrying it over to the peace field does no great service either. Unless we can look at cooperative enterprises in a dynamic way, with show and tell in that respect, I think that it's not an exciting thing to participate in.
It's one thing to watch a game, and to place all your tanks and your guns on a scrimmage line, if you're interested in football, but if you're not interested in football, and don't want to look at your family as a part of the players on this field to be taken out or as a video game, you're not left with much. On the other hand, this is the fare that we're offering people and unless we can offer something else that's exciting in terms of human life. I don't think we'll achieve the objectives because as somebody said, "You can now watch a game that's all about balance, all about leveling a playing field we're going to make the sides as equal as we can, do you think anyone's going to watch it or participate in it?" I don't, I think they're going to turn and watch boxing, if they're so inclined.
Q: So what you just said, balance the playing field, even out the sides, those are metaphors that we use a lot in this field, not necessarily in the context of war, although they are used there also. But I mean the field is much broader than war, what kind of metaphors do you think we should be using? I mean you're saying that's boring, nobody want to watch a game.
A: That's flat, where the field is flat. I think we need to move away from games and game strategy and use other types of ventures that involve multi-media, as do the images that we're seeing, and involve them in the peace-projects. This should involve images of the buildings that are going up, of the cooperative projects that are being undertaken by many agencies, by non-governmental groups, all around the world, and we really start to focus on this. What difference does it make that we're giving enough AIDS assistance in certain areas, what effect does that have on the health and productivity of the people in that area, what does it look like to have a dam come up that otherwise didn't have even subsistence level farming. What do these things look like and how do we describe them in a way that children look at them and say that's exciting, I want to participate in that.
Q: So even beyond language, images, sounds, maybe that's what you mean by more dynamic metaphors.
A: Yes, now film is considered the universal language. I'm sure you've seen that before every film you've seen in the last few years. But I think what we do needs to be in the universal language, and I think film is definitely apart of that. I think the arts are definitely apart of that, and we're seeing little bits and pieces of that, but I think if you want people involved in creative activity, then you need to show them what creative activity is all about. You need to show more of that then images and metaphors that puts non- before it. In other words, non-violence is in some ways a non- language. And we have a lot of that in the field, it's not only non-violence, there's a nullifying escalation of things and it's not like we're coming up with action to carry us in the direction that we want to go. Many years ago, after I got out of college, I did some work in my own field in literature and then began to work for the, American Field Service, so I worked with foreign exchange programs, engineering one way or another, matches between families all the way around the world, with teenagers, communities, families, schools, and so on. The beauty of that project was that everything depended on making these interactions work.
To come across the Atlantic, or Pacific, or from Poland, to be with another family, wherever you were, meant learning the language, being part of the family, being an integrated member in a sense of a new and global community and there was real understanding of that and I think I in some sense we've lost that. And in some ways because of our political position right now, especially, we have someone there saying, let's fail, we'll just fight, we'll just go in and bomb people. Is this eventually going to go to something we want? Well, not if we think the values lie in the interactions with people in history and ongoing into the future, if that's our hope. This kind of pre-emptive action isn't going to bring us there and in fact it will cut us off from the interactions that we need. Dynamically, we need to get where we want to go into our language, using multimedia, with this project, and I've said this to Heidi and Guy, we need to be a multimedia project. We need to be able to tap resources, to pull in a little bit of film here, a little bit of research here, a little bit of live play action here, young people, old people doing the works of peace.
Q: That's part of the project I'm doing. You've done some mediation with health practitioners?
A: I've done more mediation work with families, but as I do more work with families, the upshot has been, in some ways been apart of the health field. And then due to an interest that I have developed in health field issues, I started working on that needed to take places between doctors and patients in this climate. Which more and more I feel like the medical profession is looking to where money comes from, whether you're insurance will pay for treatments even if they're out there and not conveying information about possibly excellent treatments because they feel you won't be able to pay for it. They're making certain kinds of decisions that have to do with whether you will live or die and so your options become reduced and the tighter the economy gets, and the higher the doctor's insurance payments for malpractice go, the less care is available for individuals in our society and the less value, therefore is placed on individuals. So, what I've been working on recently is dialogues, and helping people do role-plays.
For instance, if you're a doctor in a situation, telling people about a diagnosis and so on, what can you say that includes something positive? What can you honestly say about options? What can you honestly say about what present insurance may or may not cover and what can you say about next steps for parties? How can you train patients to not only ask the questions, but be able to cope with the answers they receive and then to ask the next questions, if you had not answered what you had just answered where would I go for care? If you're telling me the best care is no longer available with insurance. I still want to know what is the best care. Will you tell me that now? Will you tell me where the resources are where I can find the information?
So in a sense, I'm trying to develop programs that will create dialogues for people who can deal with life-threatening disputes. I think in the present time, in the medical field, a lot of these areas are being skirted. It's like a foregone conclusion, it's the doctor's duty to kind of say, we're not doing any research or treatment in that area because there aren't enough of you, or well, get your affairs in order, you're going to die. They aren't telling you what would've been told you if the money consideration was not on the forefront, that would not be the usual thing to do. Physicians wouldn't be giving dire messages if they didn't think they'd be sued if they didn't, on the other hand, is this in the best interest of the patient? Well, probably not. So I'm looking at how to do these dialogues in different ways, because I think these are enduring conflicts around the world.
Q: And the dialogues are between doctors and patients, or between doctors?
A: I think the first ones that I've done and presented have been to a group of patient advocates on possible roles that could be played, with the patient advocates, along with the some doctors and researchers. All of them taking the roles. Playing the role of the doctor, playing the role of the patient, and trying to get into these roles, and then trying to understand that there are certain needs that need to be met.
Q: That is in the advocate population?
A: Within the advocate population, and within the doctor, researcher population. Also it needs to go in the insurance world population. It's not dissimilar from what I've said about when you're engaging in multi-party conflicts. You need to know, going in, what's in those sides, where are they coming from, what are their beliefs, what is in the belief system that could lead to resolutions, to a healthy society or a healthy resolution in the health care field. So, I'm in a sense utilizing techniques and training from work in the conflict resolution field and applying it to another area where education of the type that hasn't been done before needs to take place to resolve conflicts that often aren't stated as conflicts. The playing field there, in that respect, is so lopsided, that it isn't even recognized, that people aren't even recognizing it as being in the same field.
Q: People in a high power position, in that case, right, would be less likely to recognize that there is any conflict at all?
A: Well, it's only in the last 5 years really, that patient advocates have been included in any research decisions, in the whole field, or even in any professional conferences or been able to organize, or have any funding whatsoever. It's still miniscule, to have a say, to even be parties at the table, and that table includes all of us, all of us around the world.
Q: So in those dialogues, talk if you would, a little bit on how your focus on metaphors comes into play and also your exploration of the emotional background from which these people are basing their opinions and feelings and thoughts.
A: I think the whole role of metaphors is crucial because I think that's how we convey meaning to people. Diagnosis, for patients for example, they come in and the diagnosis is in a totally technical language and the first thing somebody hears is all this medical language diagnostic and they are in a dire prediction about what their chances are for surviving, it pretty much puts them in a total state of fear. From this total state of fear, it's not likely that they're going to be able to come up with a really good plan as to what they need to do to prolong their good quality of life, or however much time they have. The situation doesn't have to be that dire. In that situation you can see right away what happens. If emotions are involved and if one person is giving this message and so terrorizes the patient over here, they are flat on their back, how are they going to get up to participate in a meaningful dialogue that has to do with care?
Q: So in the dialogues, you probably focus on not only metaphors you use during the dialogues, but also making doctors and medical care people aware of the importance their language has with their patients.
A: Exactly, I mean, that's the goal of doing something like this, getting it up as a public education type project.
Q: What about in the family mediation arena, how do you talk about language, with your clients?
A: It's very interesting. I've just been participating in educational seminars for a dispute resolution center in my area. The amount of time devoted to the initial training in that area, not the basic one, but the addition to work in the family area was twenty hours. And in twenty hours, it's very hard to include what I think would be helpful for third parties to know coming into those situations and
while it's true you can teach people a process model to follow, that may have nothing to do with the needs of the parties. Especially as we work cross-culturally and in different communities in this culture, the chance of a model hitting on the satisfaction of needs becomes very small.
It works reasonably well if you have a fairly homogenous culture and you know, if people look like the way you could progress on a model, but since they don't, you really need to throw people back on what are their own resources. It certainly fits them there and the questions I posed during the training had to do with what are you willing to share about yourself?
Even with folks who have mediated for a long time and have learned an initial forty hours, and then have gone into their experimental work and so on, the willingness to share anything about themselves, even if they have children, it's frightening for them. All their training has said, "You're in neutral, you're impartial, and you're out of it, it's their dispute." Especially people from other cultures are not going to be very trusting of you, who are you? I mean, officials that they've run into often when they've emigrated here have been very frightening and they've gone to anybody who's official. Or the official has come to them and have removed people from their family, and they've never seen them again. So not sharing something that's apart of yourself may not be appropriate in these family settings in which people are coming.
That's the way I've tried to combine it, I'm not sure that answers your question.
Q: Sure, that actually brings up another question and that's actually the lessons learned over the years from your work in community mediation.
A: Well, that's certainly one of them. I'm not going to tell people my life story but if I'm working with people on some tough kind of children issue, sometimes I do share it. I went through this similar process many, many years ago, my children are now in their thirties and they have survived some things and there were some options they pursued. Now if people are open to option sharing, I may not say they are my options, I may just say here are some that our clients have found helpful in the past. But in many ways, I have brought in experience, little bits of experience here and there, to humanize the process. I don't think this field should be a scientific experiment. As an impartial, as an educator or as a mediator or as a thirdsider as Bill Ury pointed out that your participation in some ways needs to be meaningful to all present, as a human being and I think it's important that that be apart of the education of third parties.
Q: Other lessons that you've come up over the years?
A: I've certainly learned about perseverance. I've asked people for a follow up more times than anything else I've specifically done. What I think people have appreciated most is my willingness to focus and persevere in the pursuit of the result they would like to see happen.
Q: You said follow up, is that the embodiment of perseverance in a lot of your work?
A: I think in terms of evaluation when I've worked with parties and inquired later, over a short time, but also after I'm able to inquire over a longer period of time, how well their agreements have worked for them. Often perseverance was a part of what's worked for them and also the willingness to try options over time. To not limit parties to specific time frames that they had to get everything done in two or three hours. To be able to move beyond that and even when I've worked in court settings, I've said, if you need to come back and work on this more we can provide the time, as opposed to saying you have three hours and if you don't do it now, it goes to evaluation.
Q: Right, back to the judge,
A: Yes, and another thing I've learned is to be very careful of using BATNAs that have to deal with, well what do you think a judge would do? Because for many people, and especially people from other cultures, I've felt that it is extraordinarily threatening. I have felt if I want to help parties move to solution, often that moves them away. You know, if that's the case, I might as well go to a judge and be in open court, I don't want to be behind closed doors, threatened. So those are lessons that I've learned that are counter to some of the more standard teaching and the models that we were taught. I still hear people using them and I think that there isn't an understanding of what our language, and our geste, and our whole demeanor is saying to people that we don't tend? So I'm back again at this issue at looking at our language. What's the medium we're using, how we're using ourselves, how we're using our language in metaphor to be a part of these processes.
Q: And the last question that I have for you is that is there a particular experience in your work that has touched or inspired you that stand out in your mind?
A: Well, there are a number of them. Certainly, one that comes to mind is one where
I was the third party impartial in an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) mediation. And these cases come through a federal process, and then went through Keybridge Foundation with Peter Meta and they are then formed out to different places. I was involved in an issue where a young boy with a disability was involved in a social activity that was advertised to be open to all and his family felt that it was pretty legitimate for him to be involved. It turned out that the facility didn't have either the equipment or the interpreters necessary to include kids who had different kinds of disabilities. So they pursued it and they wanted the boy to have a good experience. So the parents ended up paying for what was needed. But they went back to the camp to have these parties participate in supporting it because their advertising indicated that they could do that. The owners of the facility's position were that because they didn't have the knowledge of what they needed, that they had no way of knowing that they could get it.
Well, the family responded that they've had so many experiences before that as soon as they said what was needed then the kid could go to the camp. And it was the kind of thing where I was searching for some ways of getting the language of what would be important to this child and did they all have the same goals in respect to this child and they did. It also turned on the fact that they had similar religious values behind them and their behavior was in direct contradiction with the values that they professed to hold and that were in the titles of the activity. So I felt that I was in really tender ground because I didn't want to be involved in a religious value discussion.
On the other hand I felt that somehow I needed to gently ask about these values and how they might have something to do with the conflict and the settling of this monetary dispute. I came back to that gently and a number of times, and finally, I think the camp owner said, "I think we must pay this or we can no longer advertise the camp of being of this persuasion, of holding these values," and so he would participate half and the parent then said, "I think that's really what I wanted to hear. I don't so much want the payment, as much of an acknowledgement of fact that the values were betrayed." And I think that that was one of the most moving cases that I've ever done. And it turned out that we did make some monetary adjustments because it involved a fourth party who wasn't there, the person who provided the service, who'd been waiting for 6 months. So we did end up doing both the financial settlement, but we also included the reconciliation.
Q: Had it been very contentious up until that moment?
A: It had been terribly contentious, and the language of the discussion was a disaster, so it changed tremendously in the course of the process. It started out with people who were so very different. The owners of the camp came from one hole, one socio-economic strata and were barely hanging on and they were young. The parents were older, they were quite sophisticated, they had adopted a child with a severe handicap, and they were not only educated to deal with this kind of illness, but also philosophically educated. However both sides professed to be in some aspect of the same belief system. So it was extremely contentious. At first I did a lot of listening to see where they were both coming from, because trying to do something with my language, to interpret one party to another, needed a lot of reflection on my part. This was also true for some of my fears about how to get on the in and out of this dialogue. I felt that
I wanted to say very little about rules of conversation. I just wanted to see if by using conversation in a certain way, if I could some how bring about change.
You're kind of nodding, so maybe you've had similar type of experiences.
Q: No, I'm in awe of the richness of your example, I think it's wonderful.
A: I hope that answers it.
Q: Absolutely, Thank you Susan. Can you talk about some techniques in which you mediate or facilitate?
A: One of the techniques that I find most helpful is seeking the permission of people that come either for education or for mediation or other types of work that will involve me in their process, to really seek their permission in the setting for my being involved. I'll also seek permission for coming in and out of their conversations and dialogues, so that I'm not just intervening from out of the blue, but instead that I have permissions from parties to come in. Especially if they have concerns about time or getting off the subject. I'll make sure that I have their buy in for coming in and reminding them for how much time we have in a different setting, or for having private meetings or for asking for certain kinds of questions or for certain kinds of information, if I feel that it's sensitive for them.
Q: Can you give me some examples?
A: One example would be that if parties were discussing issues having to do with certain people living in their household. If my sense is that they haven't included in their initial interview the fact that they have grandparents living there or brothers and sisters and so on I say, "Would you mind if I asked you to say a little about the other folks, if any, that also share your home, or may I ask about pets, that also share the home?" So that I want to make sure they're comfortable about that within. You know if they say, "I'm not comfortable about that" and they say, "You know, we've had to share where we've lived before, and we've never seen our brother or sister again." Then I'll explain a little more about who I am and what I do as a mediator for example. I will also say that this is not something that you are required to share in any way, but I thought it would be helpful as we look at times the children spend in the home and away from home of who's available there or who might be able to help with care-taking.
I think that it's making my motives and intentions known as part of the permission process. Is that ok with them and would they be willing to share if it doesn't feel good, what that might be about?
Q: How do you think the experience might be different for the parties, if you asked the same question in two hypothetical settings, one asking their permission to ask it and one without permission?
A: Well, I've had the experience doing it without and I've been greeted with just silence or no. In some ways, it simply stopped the process that I was working on. So I did a fair bit of reflection on what would enable this process to move forward. And another technique is asking them, "How have you handled issues where neither of you as parents is available to care for your children, how has this worked I the past?" And almost in all of these I need some way of people giving permission beyond what they sign on to, when they sign a contract to participate in mediation, where it says you will fully disclose and so on. Well if you're not of this culture to begin with (the conflict resolution culture) it doesn't. They're not sure what they're signing to do or not do. They remember what they read when they first came in and when they were nervous and so on. So I don't rely on it. I rely on person-to-person interaction, like do you feel safe enough in this setting with me to share this?
Q: So the simple act of asking for permission puts people at ease?
A: I think it really helps. And it makes me a person with them, that I don't have a right to bypass social customs in a way that is intrusive. That would be one technique, one about permission asking. But it's one I use a lot.
Q: Other techniques that come to mind?
A: Another technique that I like with everyone is to make short individual interview and to make sure there aren't fear issues about violence or domestic violence. Actually that is required in terms of ethical guidelines for family mediators. But I also do that where there are more folks who are involved internationally. Where there are a lot of tensions with parties and so on, because my concerns are with what happens after the meetings. Will they be safe? So I might again want to have individual meetings first and make sure I understand what some fears might be as well as some hopes for the meetings that are coming up.
That would be another technique, make sure I do some preparation, some pre-work in a very thorough way.
Q: What kind of qualities do you think a person should have doing the kind of work that you do?
A: Curiosity. I think a willingness to learn beyond what they know or what they've learned in the past. To inquire. To listen for both what's said and what might not be said, but what's shown or implied. I think that's really crucial.
I think presence, just as a human being, is really crucial. You can make a lot of technical errors really if you somehow establish the fact that it's ok to make mistakes. If I don't know that I'll find it out, or maybe you have a better way of doing this than anything that I've come up with.
A lot of the people in the field that I've studied a lot of their work, read a lot of the work coming out of the Mennonite community and so on, really involves a willingness to be open, of new ways of doing things or new ways of combining work in the field to achieve the objectives that are really meaningful to the parties involved. I don't think makes it easier to be meaningful in a context such as Rwanda or Somalia or even in the Spanish speaking populations in our own country unless the community is fully involved in the process. It creates a process that has significance for them or maybe they'll pull from one eye or our field brains, but also pull from their culture what they need to resolve an issue.
Q: Have time for one more question? Is there a particular piece of theory that under girds a lot of your practice? You've talked a lot about, well several things, but something you find yourself repeating, such as this over this, this is useful in this situation, it's a very broad question, but are there theories that you'd like to come back to?
A: I think the one I come up with is a little more basic, it's really knowing myself first, and what I can and cannot bring.
Q: That's sort of what we opened the interview up with.
A: That's all right. I don't want to name a particular conflict resolution theory. But I think more and more people are coming to that at deeper levels than they did before. The fact that as a third party you need to value who you are and what you know and what you don't know.