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 ???).
Next is collaboration. We really believe that the most effective work, and the only way we are comfortable working is to really work hand in hand with the people who are consulting with us. We consult about what's going to be useful to them and about the processes, and the structure and what they care about. We don't expect them to be able to just tell us. So we have these lengthy interviews in which we elicit different descriptions. They are really helpful in developing agreements for the group that come out of their wishes and needs, fears and concerns, and hopes. As well as their specific content areas, their questions and so on. But this idea of collaboration, literature is full of it. Most people don't have a real experience with their professional lives of a sense of easy collaboration. Where you are really working with each other and it's not just you producing your thing. We have exercises that we produce with this. One example would be, let's suppose that you give me a sentence or two that describes a dilemma you have, or some conflict that you've been in. Not a giant one but a little small one. Would you be willing to do that? Just take a minute to think of it. Just so you know what's going to happen, I'm going to ask you a few questions and your job is to not answer anything that's not interesting to you, but to help me as your interviewer, so I know what you prefer to be asked.
We have the idea that by asking questions that are collaboratively developed by the asker and the asked, they get tuned into what the other really wants and what will help them move forward in their own thinking and feeling.
If we were to go through this for fifteen minutes, my guess is that I would as an interviewer, begin to notice that you were going places that I couldn't have imagined that you would go. It would remind me as a facilitator or a participant in a dialogue, how carefully I would have to listen, and inquire in order to not let my assumptions get in the way of really being interested in you and us developing a conversation that was a fresh one.