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  • Mediator Interview Topic - Did you provide technical assistance to the parties? Can you give some examples?
    done and all the other things I m going to have them become a separate independent community and have them incorporated where they have their own government I m going to suggest that to them They can have their own city council their own commissioner They will probably have a few thousand people there in a few years Right up the street from where they are located the woman who designs all of Tony Morris s clothing lives there and she s building a bed and breakfast place A beautiful place it s a thriving community These people have money and they have a lot of talent Edward Howden Full Interview Topic Top Question Does this mean you drafted the letter Answer I did some drafting yes This goes back to the question of how the parties are trusting you whether one side or the other is going to suspect you of taking sides My moral professional take on that is and I m perfectly willing to say this to both sides I am assisting in some ways to make the process we ve all discussed and agreed on possible to get to some kind of resolution Question Did you give any assistance beyond drafting agreements and just helping them understand the process Answer When we got into the actual mediation process the first joint meeting was with either five or six members of each team I had attempted to assist particularly the tribal folks but I went over the same thing with the town folks the elements of negotiation and what s involved You re trying to reach these other folks you re trying to persuade them Of course I d gone over all that stuff with both sides But I think it s fair to say that the tribal folks had had almost no experience in negotiation and needed more help in that regard When we got into the first joint session that evening I was chairing the session and the agenda involved the demands that the tribal group put forth and the concerns that the town had But it was hard to get anything moving Bob Hughes Full Interview Topic Top Did you offer any type of training to various parties that were involved in conflict Answer Well I would talk about mediation and explain the guidelines I might also expound on how they might comply with these or fulfill these or react to these in the mediation But I know that for some mediators before mediation starts they ll have training sessions with one of the other parties on how to negotiate and I ve never done that I felt like it could be difficult to my image of impartiality I would always try to do the same thing to both sides and let each of them know that I was doing this We have had cases that would eventually be taken through a process where you ended up in a training session but that s a little bit different from what you were asking Question We talked yesterday about the training that was given to police officers How did that come about Answer Well we arranged for that You didn t ask this question but I ll answer it anyway When you have a minority group that has limited resources and had problems with for example an institution that has a lot of resources When you get down to the point of fashioning an agreement the last thing you want is for one side it s usually the institution to commit itself to doing all the things and the other party not committing itself to doing anything So when you have this situation where your minority resources are limited it taxes the brains of everybody when they re trying to fashion an agreement and think in terms of each other What can we work out that would help you where you could help us do these things Cross cultural training was an area that seemed to fit into this so that you know that is one area Another one was the idea of promotion of careers in say the criminal justice area The minority community might be alienated especially by the conflict they are dealing with and would not entertain such thoughts But if you have leadership that are urging people to get into this area and we will help you fill out an application for employment or maybe they could generate a scholarship or that sort of thing it s a way of trying to balance the commitments Question I just realized when you spoke with us before I was misinterpreting the term promotion I was thinking about moving up in rank Answer That too well in the area of affirmative action I was referring to both the recruiting and promotions of the existing officers so they have a model they can see that it s that there is a future It s important for them to be able to see this Question But the other sense of the word was that the minority community would try to get people to come into police work Answer Promote careers in that professional vocational area Question When you provided typical assistance to one group did you always inform the other group that you were providing technical assistance to the other group Answer Yes I tried to be open and equal in how I would treat each of the parties I don t remember any obvious instances where I either did this unintentionally or was accused of that sort of thing Wallace Warfield Full Interview Topic Top Question Right How much do you involve the parties in designing the process Answer Well it depends CRS s broad conciliation work really falls into technical assistance CRS had a huge technical assistance capacity So when CRS was doing long range kinds of trainings with police departments and citizens or they would be doing work in I think one of

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/topics/1530.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Mediator Interview Topic - Did you provide training for the parties? What types of training? Who did it?
    party to effectively participate at the mediation table we re not going to have an effective successful mediation So I explain that to the institution and I offer pre mediation training to both sides I also use that as a way to help each of the parties identify what their interests and concerns are and what they hope to get out of this process Sometimes that s particularly important for the institution because they often start out from the perspective of Okay how much do they want and how much of that are we going to give them They rarely think in terms of What do we want and how much of that are we going to get The reality is that they usually do want something from the community so this helps them become aware of that This is another trust building mechanism as well because I m acknowledging that You need things too What is it that you want What is it that you re looking for I want to make sure that both sides are heard and that we can talk about how each side s needs can be met I also let the institution know that it s in their best interests to have a well trained capable party on the other side because it will be easier to deal with and negotiate with them if they are capable Part of what the institution is afraid of is that they will have a group of ranting raving maniacs on the other side that they can t communicate with So part of what I m providing is some security some format which is reasonable from their perspective I may say to the institution Now you understand that party A is angry and they re going to need to express that But trust me we re going to get beyond that and get to problem solving So I lay the groundwork for there being some anger I hate to call it venting because to me venting sounds too patronizing I don t want to be allowed an opportunity to vent I want to be allowed an opportunity to be heard So even though the term venting might apply I avoid that word because it does sound patronizing to me It has undercurrents of They re just spouting off and they really have nothing to say In most cases they have a lot to say but they ve never been allowed to say it and be heard before Once both parties understand this process and it s really part of the ground rules or at least the ground expectations that s going to make the process much more effective If I explain this to the institution they ll understand that They also understand that it s going to take less time to train a police department to come to the table as a team than it does the community with a police department it s easy they just look to the chief if the chief says it s okay it s okay even though they re there as a team In terms of a community they require a lot more ground rules a lot more preparation in terms of how they re going to operate at the table If there isn t a clear leader sometimes I try to split up the leadership role I try to have different people on the community team take responsibility for leading negotiations around certain issues so that everyone is head honcho for a while But doing that and helping them to identify their interests and needs is going to take longer than it does with a police department or a school district But the institution recognizes that when they re at the table their time is going to be better spent and there ll be less time wasted if we do it this way So they re not worried about the time the fact that I might spend three times as much time with the community as I do with the institution They understand that it all helps to lay better groundwork for the process at the table The other thing that I have found and at first I was surprised but I ve gotten now to where I almost expect it is that when I have those initial meetings with the community I get a lot of that venting I hear a lot of the anger To some extent it is almost directed at me But I know it isn t really it s just that I happen to be there at the time and they re saying Well you re an official so why can t you fix it I can see that there are some very angry frustrated people there and I usually say Look I hear the anger but I want to make sure that you can express that anger to the institution and help them understand why you re angry Then when we get to the table all of that anger has already dissipated to some extent I can recall at least one case where I actually called a caucus because the community was so calm and said Wait a minute You were chewing my butt yesterday and you were ranting and raving What s going on here I almost had to remind them of the points that they wanted to bring to the table Now that they were actually at the table and communicating that was such a big achievement already that the rest of their issues almost didn t matter anymore My concern wasn t to advocate for the community but if those issues weren t brought to the table that would undermine the effectiveness of any agreement So I thought it was important for an effective agreement to make sure that all of that was on the table The preparation I did with them was important too It gave them some confidence at the table they knew they were prepared they had an agenda they knew who was going to cover what and they trusted me and the process at least to some extent The same was true for the institution they knew that I was going to control the process they trusted me to keep the discussions on track That s empowering for both sides The fact that they really are talking to each other as equals is very very important for making that process work Martin Walsh Full Interview Topic Top Sometimes we provide training or technical assistance where basically one group is taking the lead role in creating change Question What does training and technical assistance involve Answer We do a lot of training with police departments related to issues that are affecting their relations with the community It can be from hate crimes to police community relations to multi cultural training The training will sometimes be our response to an incident This can be part of or independent of their meeting with the community For example we had a racial profiling complaint but we could not get the people who filed the complaint to meet with the police to work it out We wanted them and the NAACP in a meeting The chief was willing to meet with people who felt they were victimized but they did not want to meet They just wanted to file the complaint and get a response to it I think they may have wanted to file a suit So we met with the chief and he was willing to take the next step He said It would be good for us good for the community to know that we are going to have a training program with you guys on how to avoid these types of problems in the future It was a response to the situation or problem but it didn t entail mediation or even the involvement of the community in the resolution process Stephen Thom Full Interview Topic Top Do you provide that training Answer Yes There s a school district right over here in Inglewood This school had riots at one particular high school for seven straight years And the last one became so overt that police had to come in and kids ran into the streets and went to the downtown area and broke windows and vandalized stores The city came down and the superintendent was appalled and the media attention was just overwhelming So the superintendent asked CRS to come in What we did with this school was to partner with a local mediation service Centinela Valley Juvenile Diversion Project to provide mediation training to every school in that school district We wrote our own curriculum and we trained It s a real tight curriculum that we train students for four hours a day for three days Stephen Thom Full Interview Topic Top In formal mediation and in more informal processes are you doing a lot of explicit training as you go Do you teach communication skills negotiation skills as you go in a direct kind of way Answer I would say no When you get into the mediation you are issue oriented Certainly we are reminding them of ground rules and process but we are only conveying that in terms of their behavior to the issues The issues dominate everything that you are bringing forth in the mediation process I think you can remind them of the process and the ground rules and that we need you to convey that information clearly but I wouldn t say that I would be teaching anything It is very impractical to teach basic skills in mediation Will Reed Full Interview Topic Top Did you provide any training Answer Of course I provided training all the time If you look up here you ll find some of my books and some of my work where I provided training especially in police departments Go to the Boermont County jail and find out what training programs they re using for new officers I started with Rosa in the area of training in the institutions And then I got them to train every time there s a new class coming in in community relations Not only community relations but conflict resolution In the jail the riots in that county jail have decreased about 85 since I started the program eighteen years ago I did the first training program at the Boermont Jail They needed some training the Division of Corrections had told them that they really needed to get training so I set up a training program for them for seventeen years And then the Philips County Jail down here they used to have riots all the time But the riots have been cut to a minimum because they now have an adequate training program I say adequate because they didn t have anything before Nothing in the area of conflict resolution It took me eighteen nineteen years to put all of this together Question Before you were able to put it all together in a nice training session did you provided any type of training for the parties who were in conflict like immediate training Sitting down with them saying This is the way mediation works Answer I did that several times I don t know how effective it turned out to be because you have new officials things turn over sometimes people may not want to embrace what you ve done And then there s other times someone may say Hey this is a good idea We may want to keep this Silke Hansen Full Interview Topic Top I try to coach them to be clear to present their needs and to state their position I start with What do you think is important for the other party to know Who s going to say that Who s going to present that I also tell both sides that part of my role as mediator is to control the process and that I m not going to let it get out of control They also need to understand that there are some emotions here and there is some anger here and that is part of what we re here for but to trust me that I ll keep it under control So far I ve been able to do that It s more than just coaching on how to be calm participants It s an approach that they themselves pick up and use Again I ve not always seen that happen I ve seen it enough times to sort of almost marvel at the change in presentation It s not a change in outlook but it s a change in presentation I think probably they re wanting to be seen as people who are sincere and wanting to work this out so they believe that they need to appear to be reasonable controlled and organized in making their presentation So yes I do some preparation towards that but it s more than that it s more than just good pre mediation training Martin Walsh Full Interview Topic Top Did you do anything to prepare the teams or coach them before they came to mediation Answer I think we did coaching In one sense we really didn t have to work through the demand process one thing we do in a lot of our cases We didn t have to do that Alerting them to what the process was and how it would work yes in both groups And whom we thought should be at the table That was part of our effort And going over the general ground rules Other than that it was more informal communication back and forth of knowing in general that the students are going to have X numbers and these are the issues and talking with both sides sharing with them just a sense of a reality framework to clarify what they were thinking so that the sessions themselves could be productive A lot of information had to go out to the students We hoped they would read all of it because the administration prepared a lot of information about what they were doing and trying to do what some of the past practices were a lot of information The whole informal communication process was important Also we had good relations right from the beginning with the student leader who represented them and was an excellent leader Angel Alderete Full Interview Topic Top We can provide the money to get you trained that is the transportation per diem to the training site as long as you re willing to provide the fees for training your team He said that was fine So then we paid for their way and the Department of Corrections paid for their training I was also there at the training I participated as a correctional officer and also provided some of the input that George couldn t provide in terms of CRS s interests CRS s interests were that this program had to go beyond today Let s just say that when you re getting all the training and we get back and six months go by the training should still mean something Angel Alderete Full Interview Topic Top What we had to do was have them select the group of people that they wanted to train and there ended up being about twenty of them At the same time we got the Department of Corrections to involve these people in their training in conflict resolution We did that for two reasons One is that thought I had about the teachers and the correctional officers their having the same thing going The other reason was that hopefully in discussing at lunch or dinner or what not having a beer the corrections officers might pick up some techniques and ideas from the teachers In the end the whole deal worked out pretty well they found that they did have a lot in common with one another and everybody gained some insight Bob Hughes Full Interview Topic Top Did you offer any type of training to various parties that were involved in conflict Answer Well I would talk about mediation and explain the guidelines I might also expound on how they might comply with these or fulfill these or react to these in the mediation But I know that for some mediators before mediation starts they ll have training sessions with one of the other parties on how to negotiate and I ve never done that I felt like it could be difficult to my image of impartiality I would always try to do the same thing to both sides and let each of them know that I was doing this We have had cases that would eventually be taken through a process where you ended up in a training session but that s a little bit different from what you were asking Question We talked yesterday about the training that was given to police officers How did that come about Answer Well we arranged for that You didn t ask this question but I ll answer it anyway When you have a minority group that has limited resources and had problems with for example an institution that has a lot of resources When you get down to the point of fashioning an agreement the last thing you want is for one side it s usually the institution to commit itself to doing all the things and the other party not committing itself to doing anything So when you have this situation where your minority resources are limited it taxes the brains of everybody when they re trying to fashion an agreement and think in terms of each other What can we work out that would help you where you could help us do these things Cross cultural training was an area that seemed to fit

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/topics/1540.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Mediator Interview Topic - Were their other types of technical assistance, e.g. consultants, referrals to other communities, written materials?
    do I know that there have been communities which have been frustrated because I have come and nothing s changed But the reason nothing changed is because there isn t even a core organizational structure to work with It doesn t need to be hundreds of people it doesn t even need to be a dozen but there does need to be a community core that picks this up as an issue and stays with it and works with it I know it s a lot of work and it s slow and tedious but the only way I can really make a difference is if they have that I explain that and then I work with that group to help them deal with the institution That s one of the things we are trying to do now We re trying to help communities form human relations commissions Right now that s still at a very grassroots level John Dulles who is the regional director for the U S Commission on Civil Rights for this region and I have worked cooperatively on a number of cases particularly in Indian country But unless there s some support from the tribal structure or the tribal government it s very difficult to get that off the ground Even though I personally think that in some ways it would be more effective if it were an even more grassroots initiative there isn t enough of a grassroots core there willing to do the work so here we are talking community organizing What are the entities that you would want to be a part of that I ask We ve conducted workshops on how to establish a core team how to decide who should be included We have some brochures on how to form human relations commissions and I ve developed that into a workbook too But we can t do that for the community They have to do that for themselves For example there was one community that formed a small group that just started documenting every case of police abuse It was a who what when where why kind of thing They developed a chronicle of what was there So when they then went to the city council or county commissioner they had some documentation of what was going on and not just anecdotal evidence So we try to encourage at least starting with that piece But it s difficult to make that happen if they don t see some immediate results So that s an ongoing struggle Angel Alderete Full Interview Topic Top We registered it with the federal people you send written materials to and that kind of stuff so that s registered there It was a well written report I have to say that We paid for it we got it published and we used the Latino brain power and they did a good job on it So anyway that s technical assistance If all I provided was stirring the

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/topics/1550.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Mediator Interview Topic - When you gave technical assistance to one side, did you inform the other side about it? Did you offer it to the second side, too?
    them they require less assistance than the minority community But I make sure that I offer pre mediation training and preparation to everybody who s going to be involved Will Reed Full Interview Topic Top Was there ever a time where you provided technical assistance to one group and didn t provide technical assistance to the other group or didn t want the other group to know that you were helping out the first group Answer That s a good question I don t think so I mean I never engaged in it I think that it was always available to any one who came up and made the request Dick Salem Full Interview Topic Top But you know when we talked about empowerment I mentioned earlier that Howard McKinney just sent some stuff in the mail or gave some advice over the phone to someone That certainly was helping one side of the conflict Silke Hansen Full Interview Topic Top I try to coach them to be clear to present their needs and to state their position I start with What do you think is important for the other party to know Who s going to say that Who s going to present that I also tell both sides that part of my role as mediator is to control the process and that I m not going to let it get out of control They also need to understand that there are some emotions here and there is some anger here and that is part of what we re here for but to trust me that I ll keep it under control So far I ve been able to do that It s more than just coaching on how to be calm participants It s an approach that they

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/topics/1560.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Mediator Interview Topic - Did you help the parties prepare for mediation or any joint meetings?
    from their organization ALANA We met with them on how to proceed and it started to fall into place In many ways they accepted all of our procedures We would be the spokespersons in the dealings with the media The administrators and the students would not talk to the media during the negotiations Question Talk about those procedures Answer We wanted to make sure that they were both on the same page as to how we wanted to proceed We laid out how we would like to see the mediation process proceed We would set up the agenda the mediators would control the mediation session The two parties would have their own spokespersons and those spokespersons could have any of their other members speak so long as it was an orderly process We indicated that these are the issues and here is how we are going to proceed what process we were going to use in dealing with the issues Martin Walsh Full Interview Topic Top Did you do anything that you haven t mentioned to help prepare the students to be ready for that next step or were they pretty much ready You said that they had an agenda Answer They had an agenda but we talked with them and assured them how it was going to proceed and the most important thing was our view of the administration s good faith That this was going to lead to something What they really wanted to do here s how they wanted to do it Give them the demands and you feed back to us what they re going to do They told us We gave them our demands and we want to hear from them It s an exchange of papers I said I don t think that s the way to really do it We d like to make sure that we sit down together and talk about these issues You explain what you want and they explain but there is some information that has to be exchanged Otherwise it s not going to work In the past there have just been promises Let s go through these issues and work out what an agreement is What is the administration going to say about your demands So we talked about the complexity the demands and the mediation process and how you reach an agreement so that people can live up to it It s a good faith agreement and each party needs to know what s entailed in carrying this thing forward and arriving at a solution The students sense of it was give it come back and that s the end of it Stephen Thom Full Interview Topic Top Did you work with either party before mediation to prepare them for the table Answer Yes Larry Myers and I met with the parties several times to go over the issues to insure consensus by the Ohlone People and to confirm the parties agreement to cooperate and select spokespersons of their respective teams I had worked with the Ohlone on a number of other cases with other cities So I was very familiar with many of the parties And in the consensus building we outlined exactly what worked what the process was and what we hoped to accomplish and shared this with the institution to meet with them and assess their sincerity to try to meet some agreement on these issues I think the institution was very sophisticated and supportive of what we were trying to accomplish in extensive meetings to prepare the Ohlone for mediation Stephen Thom Full Interview Topic Top Could that be shared in preparing them to come to the table Answer I thought I was dealing with a fairly sophisticated group and I didn t think I needed to do that but it wasn t something I openly shared with them Question Then the sophistication of the group becomes an important factor in how much assistance you feel a need to provide Answer Yes We had university professors in that group and I thought they could champion and knew that community and I didn t feel that I needed to do much more with them but I guess they weren t street wise in that situation Stephen Thom Full Interview Topic Top That s why I think our pre mediation process is so valuable because we need to in our own way have the parties believing that they re going to have a fair shake at the table and that they come to the table with leverage as equals Stephen Thom Full Interview Topic Top I think sometimes particularly with community organizations we have to spend some time in the pre mediation preparing them for that That sense of empowerment and valuing their position in their ability to expect some take as well as some give Renaldo Rivera Full Interview Topic Top Question Do you ever train a group to prepare for negotiations How far do you go and do you tell the other party that you are doing this Answer You have to You tell both parties that you are going to meet with each party What I do is I tell them who I m meeting with If I didn t they re going to find out anyway or lets say they didn t find out if they should find out it compromises all of my effectiveness because they don t trust me anymore Question If you were to sit down with a city official and he asked Who was at that community meeting you attended what do you say Answer That doesn t happen That s not what I m interested in doing Then I am being used by the city official What you tell the city official is I m going to be meeting with members of the community groups who would you recommend And they would suggest certain groups That doesn t mean those are the only people I

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/topics/1570.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Mediator Interview Topic - Did you assist groups with community organizing?
    Interview Topic Top We laid out how we would like to see the mediation process proceed We would set up the agenda the mediators would control the mediation session The two parties would have their own spokespersons and those spokespersons could have any of their other members speak so long as it was an orderly process We indicated that these are the issues and here is how we are going to proceed what process we were going to use in dealing with the issues Julian Klugman Full Interview Topic Top I don t believe in just dialogue but the human rights commission set up a dialogue group I got the leader of CALPAC California Association of Taverns and Package Liquor Stores a black woman who was a real visionary My idea was to get together with KAGRO Korean American Grocers Association I got the two groups together and I wanted them to sponsor a program for training I got them to co sponsor a project for two things First we were going to set up a complaint system so black customers could register complaints and there would be a system to deal with the Korean merchants who were really doing things wrong The other thing was that we would train The woman who headed CALPAC was running two stores She knew how to do it and she had a lot to teach the Koreans And the Koreans had a lot to learn about how you deal with customers I spent over two years trying to do a whole series of meetings and we couldn t pull it off There was a lot of resistance from the black community but this woman really was a leader She was pulling her group along But behind the scenes she was paying the price

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/topics/1580.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Mediator Interview Topic - Did you try to influence coalition formation?
    Boston the schools really didn t do a whole lot at this point unless it was ordered by the court which made the court real popular Martin Walsh Full Interview Topic Top I suggested that they call themselves something so they called themselves the Wellesley African American Committee WAAC They dealt with a number of problems not only with the police but a number of other issues like schools in

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/topics/1590.shtml (2016-02-13)
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  • Mediator Interview Topic - What did you do when you hit a brick wall in your effort to bridge differences between the parties?
    people who are in the middle and try to bring reason to the extremes That s what has happened in these big international affairs like Kosovo They don t have a middle In Ireland there s become this middle group who says these intrenched positions are killing us That s where you need to start focusing your energy is in that middle group in helping and nurturing and supporting Then the light s on and these two intrenched positions are no longer acceptable and the community often has to move on beyond them They ll still be agitating back here but the group as a whole has been able to create some life to move forward Silke Hansen Full Interview Topic Top Question What do you do when you get the parties to the table and they reach an impasse and just can t go forward Answer I can think of only one case where we actually got to mediation and that happened It was a court requested or court ordered mediation And it was after days of work I did what I usually do I usually start with what I would call shuttle diplomacy I hedge my bets I like to know what the parties are going to say when they come to the table before they come to the table So I do a lot of work with the parties individually before I actually bring them to the table In this case they were in the same building but in separate rooms It became very very clear that we were not going to get anywhere So I ended up just telling the court Your honor I m sorry I tried but it s not going to happen here without saying whose fault it was You know I had my own perception and I thought quite frankly that one of the parties was probably foolish because they could have gotten some gains and they ultimately lost I think they could have negotiated some gains out of this So in that case I didn t have a clue of how to get past the impasse But that s the only one I can think of where parties agreed to mediate but where they didn t reach at least some agreement There was another one that wasn t court ordered but which had been in court and it included some hiring and affirmative action type provisions The parties reached agreement on most of the pieces but not all of them In this case I think that part of the reason they couldn t agree on all of it was that one of the parties was given false expectations by their attorney The way we left it in the agreement was that we stated the areas in which they agreed and the rest went back to the court and the judge would issue a ruling In each case what the judge ruled was what the other party had offered in the first place So unfortunately for the other party the minority party in this case they really didn t get anything more than they might have gotten if they had continued to mediate and reach a settlement that way One of the things that I always do at the beginning of a mediation session is get the parties to agree on what to do if there is partial but not full agreement If there are ten issues for example and they can only reach agreement on seven does that mean they go ahead and sign an agreement on those seven and leave the other three hanging Or if we don t reach agreement on everything then do we throw it all out and say that there s no agreement period I think you want to get that understanding before they start It s much better than getting half way through the mediation only to have one party suddenly say I m sorry if we don t get such and such then all bets are off So getting an assurance from both parties that partial agreements are acceptable is one of the ways of avoiding a major disaster Sometimes just pointing out how much agreement they ve already reached then becomes an incentive for continuing the discussions I can think of another case in which there was huge mistrust and even hostility between the parties Some of the issues were complicated enough that it would require or certainly benefit from some outside expertise So in that case what we did was have each of the parties recommend a consultant who could provide expertise and then we picked a third person within that field of expertise So we had those three consultants or experts meet and come up with some proposed approaches to dealing with the issues in contention They did that successfully and then they were able to sell those ideas to the parties because they had credibility So that enabled us to get them to agree to some approaches and that would have been very difficult had we brought in only one consultant If we d had only one expert both parties would have said Is that consultant on their side or is she on our side So having a panel of three worked very well in that particular instance It was expensive for CRS because CRS doesn t have those kinds of resources But we did it in that particular case and they did ultimately reach an agreement So that s another approach to get past an impasse Silke Hansen Full Interview Topic Top Question What do you do when you get the parties to the table and they reach an impasse and just can t go forward Answer I can think of only one case where we actually got to mediation and that happened It was a court requested or court ordered mediation And it was after days of work I did what I usually do I usually start with what I would call shuttle diplomacy I hedge my bets I like to know what the parties are going to say when they come to the table before they come to the table So I do a lot of work with the parties individually before I actually bring them to the table In this case they were in the same building but in separate rooms It became very very clear that we were not going to get anywhere So I ended up just telling the court Your honor I m sorry I tried but it s not going to happen here without saying whose fault it was You know I had my own perception and I thought quite frankly that one of the parties was probably foolish because they could have gotten some gains and they ultimately lost I think they could have negotiated some gains out of this So in that case I didn t have a clue of how to get past the impasse But that s the only one I can think of where parties agreed to mediate but where they didn t reach at least some agreement There was another one that wasn t court ordered but which had been in court and it included some hiring and affirmative action type provisions The parties reached agreement on most of the pieces but not all of them In this case I think that part of the reason they couldn t agree on all of it was that one of the parties was given false expectations by their attorney The way we left it in the agreement was that we stated the areas in which they agreed and the rest went back to the court and the judge would issue a ruling In each case what the judge ruled was what the other party had offered in the first place So unfortunately for the other party the minority party in this case they really didn t get anything more than they might have gotten if they had continued to mediate and reach a settlement that way One of the things that I always do at the beginning of a mediation session is get the parties to agree on what to do if there is partial but not full agreement If there are ten issues for example and they can only reach agreement on seven does that mean they go ahead and sign an agreement on those seven and leave the other three hanging Or if we don t reach agreement on everything then do we throw it all out and say that there s no agreement period I think you want to get that understanding before they start It s much better than getting half way through the mediation only to have one party suddenly say I m sorry if we don t get such and such then all bets are off So getting an assurance from both parties that partial agreements are acceptable is one of the ways of avoiding a major disaster Sometimes just pointing out how much agreement they ve already reached then becomes an incentive for continuing the discussions I can think of another case in which there was huge mistrust and even hostility between the parties Some of the issues were complicated enough that it would require or certainly benefit from some outside expertise So in that case what we did was have each of the parties recommend a consultant who could provide expertise and then we picked a third person within that field of expertise So we had those three consultants or experts meet and come up with some proposed approaches to dealing with the issues in contention They did that successfully and then they were able to sell those ideas to the parties because they had credibility So that enabled us to get them to agree to some approaches and that would have been very difficult had we brought in only one consultant If we d had only one expert both parties would have said Is that consultant on their side or is she on our side So having a panel of three worked very well in that particular instance It was expensive for CRS because CRS doesn t have those kinds of resources But we did it in that particular case and they did ultimately reach an agreement So that s another approach to get past an impasse Question And those three consultants met by themselves Answer Initially And then they served as resources to the mediation process until the overall plan or outline was agreed to And then when it came to finalizing you know crossing the t s and dotting the i s that we did ourselves just myself and the parties Oh I remember another case with an impasse Here the parties had reached agreement on all the important stuff We were working on finalizing the wording and we got to the point of saying Each community and each ethnic group has a right to be represented and have its culture represented in the curriculum and other processes at the school But that didn t work because everyone wanted to have his or her own culture mentioned but no one could decide what each group would be called For illustration let s say the conflict involved and Asian group So do we say All Asians No no it can t be Asians it has to be Vietnamese specifically But someone else said No not Vietnamese but Southeast Asian And others just wanted Asians So just the wording almost blew the entire mediation We finally got around that impasse with some wording that I came up with All children whether they call themselves Vietnamese or Asian or Southeast Asian or whatever have the right to have their culture and history reflected So that way it wasn t the parties labeling the children it was the parties acknowledging that the children would label themselves in whatever way they wanted to We came to this idea at about 9 30 at night and the attorneys were like What is this But the parties were absolutely adamant They would not agree on anything else So it s amazing what can sometimes sort of throw that monkey wrench in there Bob Ensley Full Interview Topic Top So to end an impasse to bridge the differences you used persuasion and force Answer Persuasion with some knowledge of the history of their movement or history of their organization and some of the people they know from their respective home towns and previous involvement with different groups and organizations Also I tried to determine what their personal objectives were what they were in it for Question And once you know their personal objectives how would that help you Answer It would help me to just go up and speak on their behalf Then I say Well Dick I have a commitment from John and his group and they are committed to do such and such and without their assistance we cannot do it alone Could you give them this It worked at times Question What other techniques would you recommend to newcomers Answer Whatever little success you have don t take personal credit Give it to someone else Don t take any credit because every time you start taking all of the credit you are darn sure going to get all of the blame So I would always try to get the message out that without Larry this could not have happened or without the investors it could not have happened Little things like that And just as soon as you get back to the hotel pick up the phone and call him and say Larry thank you because it couldn t have happened without you Just little positive things Better yet if you can visit don t ever use a phone if you can visit Just drop in on somebody and say Larry thank you you made it so much easier for me and I am going to be counting on you for support from now on Julian Klugman Full Interview Topic Top Question How did you deal with other impasses When there was a stalemate and no one would move Answer You have to know when to let it go In mediation cases though I would say that you re more than halfway to success once you get them to sit down We had very few incidents where mediation broke off once we started it I would say five percent at the most because parties are committed The current situation in mediation is disturbing Mediators are making money They re selling mediation so they want to mediate and they want to come to a conclusion Who are all these facilitators They re not people like me who have learned through experience To get groups to talk you encourage the people who are quiet and you really move forward without telling people what to do Their facilitators are people who write real fast on paper and they reach a false consensus You even have techniques and games that force you to reach a consensus As if conflict is wrong What s wrong with conflict I don t mean you let people hit each other and beat each other up and scream and yell but conflict is how change takes place particularly if you don t happen to be the establishment Werner Petterson Full Interview Topic Top Question So they felt that they were at an impasse Answer Oh oh yeah Question Can you describe in this situation how the impasse looked How did they know that they were at impasse and how did you know that they were at impasse Answer Well when we got into talking about how you were going to change the student population in the school both sides had their positions about that I think a lot of it revolved around bussing and on the part of the plaintiffs that was their solution The school district was responding negatively to that idea We just kept rehashing all these old solutions and it became clear that their positions weren t going to get them out of the impasse At this point there was this idea that had floated around the community and had been proposed by a community organization so one day in a meeting I said Well what about this idea They said they wanted to talk about it so both sides and myself just started looking into how this would work and by the next time we came together they had on their own come to see that this would probably be a possibility So we set aside all these old positions and started looking and seeing how this would work Dick Salem Full Interview Topic Top The legal assistance attorneys were not participating in mediation at this point but when we opened the next session that afternoon one the attorneys and a student stormed into the room and announced that they were not going to represent the inmates any more if they were going to be harassed by the staff This is an issue which I want resolved here and now or we aren t coming back to this institution he said You can image the response of the inmates They then caucused with the legal team behind a locked door for 45 minutes They hadn t been there for three weeks and all of a sudden they came in and made this announcement and caucused across the hall Eventually they came back and the issue was resolved I don t remember the details but there were assurances given and then they disappeared again Question What were you doing while this was going on Answer I was cooling my heels What can you do when the group caucuses and they don t want you there Usually you wait awhile and give them some time and stick your head

    Original URL path: http://www.civilrightsmediation.org/topics/1600.shtml (2016-02-13)
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