Were you able to work effectively when trust levels were low between you and one of the parties? How?


Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Answer:
What did you do when you weren't trusted by the communities that you were involved in?

Question:
You did your job, you just went about doing your job. You didn't get crippled because somebody didn't trust you. You didn't become paralyzed because you weren't trusted. You just had to go along and do what you had to do. If they didn't trust you, then you had to resolve to let the chips fall where they may. You try not to have that happen. See, because if you are trying too hard to prove that you are trustworthy, then you're not trustworthy. People have to take you at face value and trust you, or you have to show that you're not intimidated by them not trusting you. They have a right to not trust you, if you think of all the experiences they've had in the past.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
What did you do to diminish tensions between the parties?

Answer:
When we entered, tensions were exceedingly high. I could observe no level of trust whatsoever. The game for inmates was to taunt the corrections officers, who didn't want to be there in the first place, but had to be there because that was their job. Many of the inmates didn't resent every counselor, but they wanted to make life for most of them as unhappy as they could, and they were masters in brinkmanship. There was no trust at those levels, and between inmates there was no trust between groups. During the course of mediation, when people were talking and began listening, tensions were eased. Within the reformatory, the parties at the table had to learn to know each other a little better. There was some transformation as they listened and there was credibility to what was being said. Everybody has certain basic needs including being acknowledged and understood. Those instances that I cited, with the salsa and the hairnet, guards and administrators came to see that the inmates were bright, at times eloquent. The inmates got a sense and understanding of why the place was run the way it was. Some of it was unforgivably sloppy and poor. But there were reasons why there had to be twice as many guards on a given hour, during the head count, and there were reasons why there wasn't more visiting space. So they were able to understand each other's problems and that eased tensions.




Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Do you think you were able to work effectively when the trust levels were on the lower end?

Answer:
Probably not. The white community in South Boston was so distrustful of this entire process that I sort of epitomized the court order, so they didn't trust me at all. Even the people who eventually served on that biracial parent council were there because they supported complaints about the court order. But they wanted their children to get an effective education, and they wanted to avoid violence. None of them, initially, was a strong supporter of desegregation in Boston. To some extent what was happening in South Boston just confirmed that this was a terrible idea, because who needs this? But some, like Jim in particular, reached the point of saying that this was long overdue. He felt they had to do that because they couldn't continue living with the attitudes that existed in that community. But none of them were strong pro-desegregation activists, and Lord knows, they were very cautious about what role if any they would play in this process, and whom to trust.






Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

You had learned the politics of the community, the culture of the community over a period of time?

Answer:
I can't say I've ever learned it because it is a lot more complex than I could have ever imagined, but I was privy to a lot of meetings and explanations as to what was going on. They used me a lot too, to be candid with you, because once the Justice Department comes in and they would say something in Korean and everybody would go, "Oh!" I knew I was being touted as a representative of the government coming in here. I could never get clear stories from everybody. But they gave us a lot of information; there was a lot of trust and cooperation formed eventually. The older generation was looking at the Korean money. The younger generation was looking at how the United States was going to try to restore their community. Some of the young people felt that -- in Korea I guess when there is a disaster, the government will compensate you and make you whole, you just lay out what your damages are and the government will compensate you. They felt that the city had that role for them. They didn't even know what the federal role was, they were so focused on the city that they refused to be open to other resourcesWe knew the leaders and he was a very cagey guy, but at the same time I think he used us, but he gave us enough information to let us know what was going on. He knew that we would at least insure their safety, because we were playing that liaison between law enforcement, between city hall, the protection service agencies of the city government. So they would give us just enough information so that they felt they were being protected, at the same time they were getting their voice heard. That's when they told me, "Here's our next game plan." And I go, "What are you going to do now?" It was, 'Well, we're going to march around city hall."






Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Did you ever have to work in a situation where you thought you had minimal trust? Where they were keeping one eye on you?

Answer:
All the time. Yeah, and it's up to you to develop that trust. You're okay when you first shake hands. They love you. Then they say, "Alright, prove yourself." That's the way it is. It's always been that way.




Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

How important is trust, can you operate if you aren't able to gain trust the trust of the parties?

Answer:
I don't think so. At least a certain level of trust. You talk about absolute proof, or proof beyond a reasonable doubt. You don't have to have absolute trust, but it must be enough trust to be able to do the job. I guess that can vary with different people; some people trust you more, some people trust you less. But you're not asking them to trust you, you're just asking them to consider what is being proposed or consider options that you're proposing or your presentation of different perspectives. They decide on that. Also, once I've met them, they make the judgment of if I was true to what I said I was going to do or not. Did I hold things in confidence that they wanted me to? Did I talk to those people that I said I was going to talk to? So maybe not necessarily trust, but there's a working relationship. And as long as there's a working relationship, that's all we need to be effective.




Manuel Salinas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
We talked about trust quite a bit yesterday. Can you be effective if the parties don't trust you? Or even if there's one key party that does not trust you?

Answer:
Well, remember, you're dealing with two sides, usually. If you have a group that totally doesn't trust you , then you really have to concentrate on the other side. By concentrating on the other side, perhaps you could find a solution to the problem, because I doubt that both sides don't trust you. So if one side trusts you, I think that you can still resolve a problem. But the other side just has to work harder; they have to overcome that. Not you. Not the third party. I think that's possible.

Question:
Can you think of an example where that occurred?

Answer:
I don't recall any. It may take some nourishment, maybe start it out that way, but usually you could build trust with both sides.






Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Were you ever able to work effectively when the people didn't trust you?

Answer:
The word "effectively", just turn that word around and say that you might not have been as effective as you could have been if they trusted you more. You were able to function, perhaps not as well as you would like to have functioned, because you knew there were several people who might not have trusted you. From either side -- from either the so-called "establishment side" to the street people side or to the non-establishment side. Sometimes you just had no way of knowing who didn't like you or who didn't trust you.







Copyright © 2000-2007
by Conflict Management Initiatives and the Conflict Information Consortium at the University of Colorado