Family Therapist, Trainer, and Co-Founder of the Public Conversations Project in Watertown, Massachusetts
Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003
This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).
We want people to be really focused on what they want when they come. We ask them before a meeting all kinds of questions that help them do that and it wouldn't be like the one I just said. A sample question might be; what could happen in this meeting that would make you feel that coming and spending your time here was quite a good thing? What could happen in the meeting that would make you feel it was quite a waste of time or even worse? What kinds of questions would you hope that people you disagreed with on the issue would ask you, that would then enable you to speak about things that you don't usually speak about in this conflictive context? What are questions that you have for the people that are coming that you would like a chance to ask that in ordinary circumstance you absolutely wouldn't, you would be afraid to, or embarrassed to, or would be sure they wouldn't answer in any genuine way?
So we get people to think about those kind of questions.
And ultimately what are some questions that you think the conversation we're about to say that could address what you believe would start a generative conversation, that might move the conversation forward
We get everybody's questions ahead of time and we distribute them, unattributed, but that's a very different process.