Jan-Feb Fast Company article summary

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Fast Company Jan-Feb 2000

She Stands on Common Ground by Jill Rosenfield

pp. 72-74

This article discusses Susan Podziba and her unusual, but very interesting vocation. Susan is a faculty associate with the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. She is a mediation expert and tries to bring resolution to conflict. She has facilitated dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, environmentalists and fisherman, and between prochoice and prolife activists. Shes 39 years old, which I think is notable.

By listening to both sides separately, she untangles the issues, emotion, perceptions, and dynamics that surround the dispute. Then she decides whether mediation can work. You dont use a hammer to tighten a screw. She says mediation wont work unless everybody agrees that some resolution is better than no resolution.

With these parameters in mind she lays some ground rules and tries to dispel unnecessary fears and outrageous hopes. With these issues exposed, the group can see whats truly realistic and whats nor.

I was very impressed with ;her approach to resolution and one particular activity really struck me as being very useful and provoking. Each person had to repeat what the other person said. Susan says these stories are painful to repeat. When youre retelling the other sides story, you skip a lot. This illustrates that people are very selective about what they hear and digest. I think this is very true and this is a wonderful way to make both sides see th;e other. I am impressed with her knowledge and ability and thought th;e article was very; good! There is a small column alongside the article titled A Life or Death Dispute that is also very eye-opening in regards to dialogue.

-- Anonymous, March 29, 2000

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