What factors contributed to your ability to build trust?


Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Answer:
Sure, race was an issue for anyone who went into the field and interacted with other races. Itís a fact of life. Factors that influence that were, were you new on a scene, how did you compose yourself, what were the tension levels, who were you meeting with locally, who were you with from your own staff, who invited you in, who was there from the community? All of these things could be factors in how you were treated. Like mediation of any kind, your job was to build trust. You had to build trust. If you didnít, you couldnít work effectively. Some will say "If you canít build trust, get out of there and go home.Ē Well, you canít always get out of there.




Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Going in a very different direction now, let's talk a little bit about how you build trust with the people you are working with. One of the things that I am especially interested in is that you are a white woman.

Answer:
You noticed.

Question:
I did. But the people reading your interview won't know.

Answer:
Quick story: I belong to a church out in Montebello which is predominately African American; I am not the only white, but I am the exception rather than the rule. Anyway, our minister out there is African American as well, and he was preaching about race relations one Sunday the idea that color really doesn't matter, and how we ought to get along with everyone, and how inclusiveness is part of what we pride ourselves on in that church. And that's true. And he said, "You know, sometimes I forget that Silke is white," and I said, "Well, don't worry about it. Sometimes I forget, too." So it depends on the setting, it depends on who I'm talking to. Early on in some cases, I'll say, "Look, I understand that I am a white woman who used to live in New York. What do I know? So help me understand. What do I need to know to be able to work here? I don't try to pretend that I know what you are going through because I don't. Even if I do, I am not going to say that I know, because I recognize that I need to learn from you." And, most people appreciate talking to someone who doesn't think they have all of the answers. And again, I do a lot of listening. Time is no object. Those first few trips I schedule very few meetings, because I want people to have as much time as they need to tell me everything that they think I need to know. If they get angry, that is fine. If it takes a long time, that's fine. And if you want to beat up on the government, that is fine too. You know, I have broad shoulders I can take it. I also try to be very clear about what I can and can't do so that people don't have false expectations, and I think for the most part they appreciate that. "Now, here is what I can do and here is what I can't do." The other thing that I have found is that in many cases and particularly in some of these grassroots communities people just appreciate you returning their calls, not dismissing them, just acknowledging and validating their concerns. Even if I can't change the racism that prevails in a particular area, it doesn't take terribly long to have that common human denominator and get past the "Well you are white and I am not" or "You're Indian or you're black or your Hispanic or whatever, and I am not" phase.




Martin Walsh


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

There was pretty strong trust in us from the administration. They were very much concerned about getting this matter settled. And the students, this was the first time they were involved in mediation, but they pretty much followed our recommendations because we indicated that this was the process. None of their faculty advisors -- we'd already talked to the advisors -- came up with any changes in the process. It was helpful that we had seen some of those faculty members and conferred with them beforehand in our assessment process.

Question:
Would you say that helped them build trust?

Answer:
I think it did. The students were frustrated with the administration. I think they were willing to try this new process of mediation. We said we wanted to end up with some written agreements and have them put into writing. They said in the past promises made by the administration were made in general meetings and led to nothing of substance. I said, "As part of the process you used in the past, do you have anything in writing?" They said, "In the past, the president or chancellor made the commitment to us." "Well, is it in writing?" "No." So there was nothing of record that they could go back to and say, "Well they did not do this." It was all verbal. The oral history is negative because of these unfilled promises. So, part of our strategy was to indicate to them that there were some hope for changes this time and perhaps we could help. With the president and the chancellor being willing to commit themselves to change the type of process used and to follow through, and our indication to them to get it in writing, then that could be followed through. In fact, that was one of the agreements in the end that was written out. The chancellor was going to give a report at least once a month about progress related to each of the agreements.

Question:
In terms of generating trust among the student leaders, what would you say were the most significant factors that lead to their agreement to this mediation and their trust in CRS?

Answer:
I don't know of too many instances where we've had problems getting the community to trust us. That has never been a problem or issue. We almost go in with that type of an understanding where they feel confidence in the Justice Department. We always tell them about and refer them to other places where this process has worked.

Question:
You mean referring them to other?

Answer:
Other situations, cases, communities, cities, or institutions where we have been involved and what this process led to. Institutions like police departments, school systems and mayors, and communities in general feel more confident when they know about X city we worked in that had similar types of things and we helped them. I mean the inference is if you want to confer with them call them. We say that to community groups also, especially if they don't know us or our work. But most times, like at U Mass, the faculty members and the others who were behind the scenes assisting the students, we had already talked to them and they gave them the green light, so to speak. But I think what's more important is that the administration, from our perspective, was sincere about this. So it was, in effect, like in many of our mediation cases where we have to legitimize the community to the authorities. I think in this case it was legitimizing the administration to the students as a party willing to go with this process in good faith.




Martin Walsh


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I think the body movement is important with people. They can see that when you're listening, talking to the person, what they're saying. I've seen people who basically are not listening to what is being said and that behavior is being conveyed back to the other person very quickly by interrupting what they're saying; by no reaction, verbal or non verbal, to what they're saying; no empathy. It' s all these factors fitted together. This is a special matter with police, because sometimes the natural inclination of the individual mediator-conciliator is that this chief hasn't been doing his job and has created all kinds of problems. He's starting to get defensive. Whether or not there's an understanding of what he's doing or conveying, already there's a turnoff by just the looks. I think it's that relationship, that from their perspective they are testing us out, especially when meeting a CRS person for the first time. They really want to know who this person is, where he or she is coming from. We say we're impartial, that we're here for a process. That has to come through. With also the empathy that you know what they're doing, what they're going through. I think that's the problem with, I hate to say age, but it's a certain maturity type of thing, that the person you're dealing with and talking to knows that you understand what they're going through. Maybe you don't agree with them, but you're not outwardly showing that one way or the other. You understand it and you know what they're talking about. You're communicating.





Nancy Ferrell


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Did you always know all of the parties before you went down?

Answer:
Yes, if at all possible. You might not be able to get in touch with everybody, but the goal would be to get in touch with all of them before you got there. Whoever I talked to first, I would tell them that I'm going to be talking to the other party today. "Before I leave, I'll be talking to these people. Is there anyone else you think I should talk to?" That did two things. First, it broadened the network for talking to people, it began to identify some of those leaders. Second, it began to establish the trust that I was in fact going to talk to the mayor, the police chief, LULAC, or this person who's in charge of the demonstration. Everybody knew I wasn't trying to hide anything. Usually the next person is the chief of police who will say, "Why did you talk to them before you came to talk to me?" I would tell him I made the appointment with them first and I didn't try to go into that anymore. I knew there was always that feeling of, "Who did you talk to first?" One would always say, "They're just trying to con you." So I just say, "Everyone's trying to con me. It's part of the deal. Everybody tells the story from their perspective." I understand that it's part of the dance. "I understand that's a concern of yours." I'm trying to minimize any impact it has in a negative way. "I think we can be helpful."




Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

The company provided a lot of generated credibility. They explained the operation and showed the fiscal report and so on. So if they said, "No, we can't do this," they gave reasons why. They were then willing to say, "...but we'll make these efforts to reach that point." Eventually they set down a rule that was accepted, and it was a good faith effort.



Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Language was a big problem. They were threatening big demonstrations in front of the DAC at first, and later on they did have demonstrations at City Hall. It took awhile to get mediation going. When we were trying to arrange it, there were one or two Koreans who wanted to speak for everyone. We tried to explain that while it wasn't that we didn't trust them, and we were sure they were honorable people, we couldn't take their word for what the entire Korean community wants. We insisted that we have more participation from the Koreans. There were a couple of business associations we got to participate and we had the leader of this Korean young adult team which was doing the protecting service. There were a couple who were clearly sort of elders within the Korean community, too. The entire process had to be bilingual, so I had to have a translator, because I don't speak any Korean at all. These were all day sessions, and we ended up going on for three days. I could never persuade any translator to come back for a second time because they were so worn out, so totally exhausted after one day. So there was no way I could persuade them to come back again. Part of what happened is that some of the Korean victim party who spoke at least some English, so if the translator didn't get it just right, they would jump in and say "No," so this poor person had a very, very difficult time with it. The other challenging thing was that almost everybody at the table on both sides were men, and here I was, a woman, taking charge of the process. But I did it, and it was fascinating, just because of the dynamics of what was going on, some of the interactions among parties. Never mind the actual negotiations between the parties. I ended up becoming very close to that leader of that adult group. He calls me "Mom." I'm his American mother. So we ended up being a very close link into that particular community. They really they were concerned that they receive protection. They would've much preferred that L.A. police do it, so later on, we managed to arrange for some meetings between some of them and law enforcement on how to coordinate security services in these neighborhoods It didn't become a full time vigilante group working in the community, but it was certainly challenging.

Question:
Did you provide technical assistance to both sides?

Answer:
Yes. I always provide technical assistance to both sides. Now sometimes, the technical assistance required by an establishment side, just for the purpose of kind of grouping 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. In this case, there was actually relatively little preparation for each. Partly because of the immediacy. I think some people thought they were just coming to a meeting. But I made sure that we kind of put it into a mediation session rather than a free-for-all conversation, because it was the only way to accomplish what we needed to and, well, I'm a mediator, and that's what I do. But I really thought in this particular setting -- we must have had at least thirty people in the room that we needed mediation. We had many response agencies maybe about twenty people, and six, maybe eight Korean representatives. So we had to have some kind of a structured process so this discussion could actually take place. Part of what came out of that is that, after all the broad issues were addressed, was there were then sort of splinter mediations, if you will, or splinter meetings. And the one that comes particularly to mind was with the Small Business Administration. Besides FEMA, SBA ended up being one of the major sources for financial assistance. They had an excellent director there on-site who really bent over backwards to understand and meet the needs and be flexible. He was one of the least bureaucratic bureaucrats. So that made a big difference. They helped out with business loans, because it was mostly businesses that were destroyed during that time. We helped facilitate the Koreans applications, helping them to apply by giving them technical assistance to make the application process easier.

Question:
So the negotiations were basically over what kind of assistance was going to be provided and how and when?

Answer:
Yes. And what the procedures would be for making that happen. A lot of it was even just how you get access to some of the leadership of some of those agencies if you know there's a particular issue in your community that isn't being responded to. And in some cases, the time line was a problem, because when people apply for a loan they'll get an answer within a month. But these folks were looking for an answer next week. So how do you handle some of those emergency situations? In some cases, it was just a matter of really clarifying what the procedures are and what has to be done to have to go through that.






Manuel Salinas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

They were reluctant at first, of course, because they didn't know us. But being Hispanic, or Chicano, and them being Chicano made them feel more at ease. They felt that" maybe this guy can help, and maybe this agency can help." They were totally unaware of what CRS is and why is it connected with the Department of Justice. But once the Department of Justice is mentioned, that helps a little bit, because they feel that there's some validity there. Or there's some strength there. That's how they began to accept us. Then it didn't happen at one meeting. It didn't happen right away. We had to come back a couple times. In the meantime they talked among themselves. Then we'd come back. So this whole effort took at least a year and a half. Things were happening over that year and a half, before I exited.



Manuel Salinas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Now, if I didn't show up at many of the meetings, well I would lose that trust pretty quickly. I don't care if I am who I am, you just lose it. So you have to make that extra effort to always continue that relationship, no matter how hard it is on you, or where you're at, you just have to do it.



Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

And every now and then, you had a leader in a certain group that you respected enough that you could do that with. Like Alice, we got to know each other, so we'd sit down and she'd say, "Why don't' you play the big, good guy and I'll play the old bitch." She was good at saying that. Well, it got down to times when there were people over the years that you worked with a lot, and you got to know that you could trust them and they were easy to cooperate with. You knew they were going to do the right thing. And if they felt you were going to do the right thing, things went pretty easily.



Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Did the parties ever ask you to do things that you weren't able to do?

Answer:
Oh sure. Lots of times. You tell them. You just be straight up. You tell them, "I can't do that, man. Do you think I'm a darn fool?" In one prison I went into, the guys wanted to bring in various contraband and stuff like that. You just say, "no," and go onto the next level and they leave you alone about that. And not only that, they respect you. They respect you as a person, and when they respect you as a person, you find that they're more willing to cooperate with you.






Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

You talked just a few minutes ago about how you were able to speak the language of the authorities, and that tells me that you were able to establish some level of trust. How important is trust in your role, and how were you able to develop it in this case?

Answer:
Trust is everything. You know sometimes, as mediators, or even in some other roles, if we don't assume that we know enough about the subject, and about the common interests, it is not there. I always assume that one of the reasons I was hired was because I brought certain skills and expertise to the table and then I was just sort of thrown into the lion's den rather quickly and was able to perform really well.

Question:
Now I'm sure that you have some special techniques that you were able to use. You said that you were able to speak the language and so that made them feel comfortable with you. Give us an example of what type of languages were you using, what things were said, and when?

Answer:
Talking to the media officials' side, I was able to convince them that I did know the community. I was able to tell my own story of how I went to school, how I got to the university and why I got to the university, and eventually graduated, and what I had done to become, you know at the time, the only Hispanic in a management position. That I think was impressive to them and the fact that I showed a lot of honesty as to what the positions of the minority community were and what the consequences would be if something else came out -- a different outcome.




Bob Ensley


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

don't be seen consorting with the ladies. That's something that you cannot do in this business and maintain any credibility. In any type of business you cannot consort with women that you meet. You know, during the struggle, most people stay at hotels or motels and some of the things that I've seen over the years have destroyed a lot of people's credibility and reputation. Sometimes they will try you. A group in Mississippi sent two of the most beautiful women to my motel in Memphis. I mean, they were gorgeous ladies. I was in the dining room and I saw them. I had my dinner and I went back to my room, and about an hour later somebody knocked on my window and said, "Mister, do you have any battery cables?" I said, "Yes, but just give me a chance to put a shirt on." So I went out and they said, "Well, we know you're there by yourself and we just thought you needed some company. You know, we're here alone too......." so they'll set you up. Another thing: don't be pretentious and dress like they do. Never be pretentious and again, let them do the talking and you listen and you take notes. After it's all over you say, "Well, I sure thank you because without that information I don't know which direction I would be able to go. Never borrow any money from local officials, and never let people give you gifts or favors. I don't even accept a Coca Cola from the sheriff. Now when we go into a real crisis area, the riots in Georgia for instance, it's the obligation of the sheriff to pick up the tab for all the food that's being served. In the time of curfew you have to eat where they eat because otherwise you're not going to eat because the restaurants are closed. With that exception I don't go in wanting the sheriff, the chief of police, or anybody do anything for me. No you don't accept small favors. And tell people the truth. For example, sometimes I would say to them, "Well, I'd rather not go to the meeting because I know there's some people there that I wouldn't want to be seen with." Your support or association with certain people tends to give them elevated status, a little beyond where they need to be. These rascals don't need to promote themselves at your expense. So just tell them no, I can't go at this time. And if you tell them you're leaving town, leave town. If you tell them you're going to be staying, make sure you're staying there. Don't lie to people. These little things are where you gain trust.



Bob Hughes


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

You told me a little earlier about how you build trust between yourself and various parties. What specifically are you able to do to gain trust between the parties, if anything?

Answer:
There's certainly the assignment of particular tasks to joint committees. That builds trust and working relationships between those involved in that. When they come back in with an agreed upon, joint position, then that's communicated to the other. I don't know that I do anything specific.

Question:
Those tasks are interesting though, so you come up with those on your own?

Answer:
Yes. It may be very obvious. I look for opportunities to assign a joint committee to work on this, especially overnight.




Werner Petterson


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
And actually that's my next question, how important was it for you to gain the trust of the parties?

Answer:
Oh well, you know probably in almost all cases there's an outsider and you're always faced with that because in most cases people don't know you. At this particular time, and at any time over the history of CRS being a representative of the Justice Department, you were always suspect by somebody and it would depend on the community, depend on the times that would shift, who was particularly suspicious about who you were. The way that you overcome that is just by sitting down and talking with people and demonstrating to them you're committed, you're involved in helping them find a solution. You can be answering questions people have concerns about, if they have any, what they see as leniency on one side or the other. If you try to clear that up they will come to trust you, but it takes some work and preparation. I think over time as they see that you're there to be of help, there are no suspicions about where your commitments are. It's only over a period of time that as people get to know you, those sorts of suspicions get to be set aside.

Question:
What were some specific trust- building strategies or activities that you used when either race, ethnicity, gender, or CRS affiliation was an issue?

Answer:
I would find someone from whatever the community it might be and in this particular situation it was in the black and the white community. I knew that if I would involve the community in this process it would be helpful to have people within the community who knew me, to introduce me to people and become a bridge and to be a patron of what was happening. And in that particular case there was a prominent State Legislator that I had known for many years and he was well loved in the community and became my bridge into that community. There were parts of the community that I needed to have some access to. It was also true on the other side that we were going to want the business community leaders in particular cities to be committed because in this particular city nothing happened unless a "blue book business" leader was being alarmed. So again, it was through someone I had met in the city, in another case, that became the bridge into that organization where I could go over there and speak and talk about what I was trying to do. I could win their support that if we could reach an agreement it was going to be something the business community was going to support.




Manuel Salinas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

How did you build trust with the police chief and with the community? Did your race affect your ability to do that? For example, why do you think the police chief felt comfortable and confident with you?

Answer:
I think they knew they had made a mistake, number one. They already knew they had made a mistake, and he felt that if there was somebody like our agency that could help, that would be good. Because there was some publicity on it, our involvement would be helpful to the department. I'm sure he already checked with the city manager on it, that they felt that if they could keep the hostility at bay while all this was being done, that was a plus. Which did happen, we kept things at bay while things were developing. El Comite was getting stronger, it was growing, and we had the assessment team being named, all that took a little time. So I think that's why he went along with it. I think the chief himself felt that they hadn't had a self audit among themselves and most departments don't, and here's somebody that can do this for us that will help us in the long run, we think.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Do you find that itís easier to gain trust if you meet in person rather than trying to form a relationship over the phone?

Answer:
Face to face sounds better, but we didnít have a choice. You just have to do it every way. Sometimes people donít know who you are, what color you are, how old you are, and sometimes itís better if they donít see you. That way you can talk to them and build rapport. So I donít have an answer.







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