Interview Segments by Topic
When did you begin at CRS? When did you leave?
What did you do before coming to CRS?
What civil rights or conflict management work did you do before your CRS work?
Why did you decide to work at CRS?
What did you do at CRS (what was your role)?
Background information on a case
When the case first came to your attention, what did you do?
When making an initial assessment of a case, with whom did you talk first? Next?
Did everyone want you involved? If not, what did you do about that?
Did you give advance notice of your arrival? To whom? Was there anyone who you did not inform? Why?
How did you prepare for your intervention?
Did you phone all parties before your arrived?
Did you assist them by phone only? What types of assistance did you provide? Can you provide an example?
What did you do when you couldn't locate anyone with whom to talk?
How did you do your onsite assessment?
Who did you talk to first on site?
Were your initial meetings during your intervention private and confidential?
Did the parties ever ask you to do things you were unable to do? How did you handle such requests?
How did you respond if you thought that CRS intervention might harm a legitimate protest activity?
How did you identify the proper people to talk to or get involved?
How did you identify leaders?
Did CRS feel pressure from outside sources?
How did you design a response plan?
Did you set goals for your intervention? At what point in the process?
Did the parties assist in the goal-setting process or influence your choice of goals? How?
How did you determine your own role (e.g., to act as an advisor, conciliator or a mediator)?
What did you do to build and sustain trust with the parties?
Was your gender a factor in your ability to build trust with the disputants?
How did you prove your credibility?
How important was it for you to gain the trust of the parties?
How did you build trust with the disputants?
How did you detect whether your trust-building efforts were successful?
Were you able to work effectively when trust levels were low between you and one of the parties? How?
Was your race or ethnicity a factor in your ability to build trust with the disputants?
Can you recall any examples of when you served as a scapegoat or in some other way helped a party save face?
What factors contributed to your ability to build trust?
Were parties ever reluctant to participate because of a lack of trust in you or the process?
How did you identify underlying issues?
Were the issues that appeared to be most critical to you always the ones that brought you into the case?
Did the conflict become defined differently over time? How?
Did you find it necessary at times to help the parties define or prioritize their issues? How did you do this?
Did you find yourself assisting one party to understand the other party's perspective?
Did you have effective techniques for persuading a party to reframe the problem to make it negotiable?
How did you deal with seemingly intractable demands on a party's agenda for negotiations?
How would you deal with a demand on one party's agenda that the other party said was non-negotiable?
Did you ever deal with a conflict that seemed to be truly intractable?
Did key issues ever involve factual disagreements? How did you deal with such problems?
Tell me about your meetings with the parties when you were helping them to resolve their differences.
How did you decide who would be at the negotiation table?
Did representation questions ever become a problem? How did you decide who would be allowed to speak for a group?
How did you decide when to meet separately with the parties and when to bring them together?
Were there cases where you never brought the parties together or never met with them separately?
Did the parties ever refuse to meet together? How did you handle it?
Was timing of the discussions critical? Did you ever need to wait or hurry up in order to get people to come together?
When you brought the parties together, how did you decide where to convene the meeting?
Who set the agenda? Who defined the ground rules and meeting structure?
How did you assist in opening communications between the parties, to get them talking and listening to one another?
Who facilitated the discussions?
Were there situations when a party came to the table but gave only lip service, or refused to negotiate in good faith?
Were you able to increase trust levels between parties? How did you do this?
Would the parties look to you for guidance in constructing solutions or would they come up with their own solutions?
How would you respond when you were called upon to carry messages between the parties?
How is mediation different from facilitation?
What did you do to diminish tension between the parties?
What did you do when someone verbally attacked another person directly during mediation?
Did the situation ever become violent or potentially violent? What did you do to diminish that?
Were you ever in personal danger? How did you respond?
Did a party ever threaten to walk out of a mediation? What did you do then?
Did a conflict ever escalate after CRS became involved? How?
How did you initiate de-escalation?
Did you ever separate people into small groups and work with them that way?
Did you find yourself helping the parties strengthen their own capacity to deal with conflict?
What techniques, if any, did you employ?
Did you provide technical assistance to the parties? Can you give some examples?
Did you provide training for the parties? What types of training? Who did it?
Were their other types of technical assistance, e.g. consultants, referrals to other communities, written materials?
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?
Did you help the parties prepare for mediation or any joint meetings?
Did you assist groups with community organizing?
Did you try to influence coalition formation?
What did you do when you hit a brick wall in your effort to bridge differences between the parties?
Did you try to analyze or address power disparities between the parties? How did power differentials effect the process?
When you perceived a significant power imbalance did you try to level the playing field? How did you do this?
Did you ever provide assistance to one party without the knowledge of the other?
Did anyone ever ask you to become an advocate or to tilt the table in their favor? How did you respond?
Did you ever try to use the power of the Justice Department to influence the situation or level the playing field?
How did you identify differing levels of power at the table?
What is your attitude toward ending community protest?
Did power differences ever block the process or interfere with it.
How would you describe your work in terms of your neutrality, impartiality, and objectivity in a case?
Did you ever have a need to strike a balance between helping the parties reach a settlement and achieving equity?
Did you address the issue of the fairness of the settlement?
Did you have a problem retaining your impartiality while trying to level the playing field prior to negotiations?
Did you work on cases involving hate groups such as the KKK or neo-Nazi groups?
Were there techniques you used to help you maintain your impartiality?
Did you have techniques for managing your emotions during case work?
Did you ever have your impartiality challenged? If so, how did you respond?
Did you ever intentionally act as an advocate for one side? Did you ever do this unintentionally?
Are there other aspects of the process that you used that are worth noting?
Did you do any organizational assessment or evaluations?
What role does listening play in your work?
How much direction did you give the parties in mediation?
Did you ever try to pressure the parties to change their approach?
Can you explain the difference between conciliation and mediation?
Tell us how conciliation works.
How did you control rumors?
What cultural or racial factors influenced the process?
Were you able to detect when an internal conflict existed within a party that was inhibiting progress?
How did you deal with it?
Did you often enounter road blocks that might have prevented you from doing your job?
What brought the parties to the table?
How did you provide a "safe space" for discussions?
How did you identify community resources to help resolve the conflict? How did you use them?
What types of resources from within the community would you use? How did you get them involved?
Did you ever draw upon resources or refer parties to resources from outside the community?
Did other organizations or people within the community help limit the intensity of the conflict or help resolve it? Who? How?
Did you provide information about outside resources that could help the parties in conflict?
Did you ever bring in a neutral expert or other resource person to help with fact-finding problems?
How did you deal with issues of confidentiality during your casework?
Can you recall any times when assuring confidentiality created a problem for you?
How did you deal with the media? Were they an asset or a liability to your work?
When the needs of newspaper, radio, or television reporters interfered with your work, how did you deal with the problem?
Did you ever try to use the media as an ally to mediation?
Did you ever issue statements to the press on behalf of the parties? Under what circumstances?
Did the parties ever agree to a policy regarding statements to the press as a condition of negotiation or mediation?
Tell us about your media program.
Did you issue press releases, have news conferences, or otherwise inform the media about your activities?
How did you determine when to end your involvement in a conflict?
Did this sometimes become difficult because of the relationships you formed?
How long did you generally work on one case?
Before terminating a case, did you help the parties develop a contingency plan to help prevent a recurrence of the conflict?
What might a contingency plan include?
Did you assist the parties design other structures to prevent a recurrence of the conflict?
Did you take continuing responsibility for its implementation?
Did you plan any follow up after the case was closed?
Did you have any continuing professional relationships between CRS and community people after a case was "closed?"
What would you say were the positive outcomes of the contingency planning process?
Did you have any continuing personal relationships with community people after a case was "closed?"
Were other enforcement mechanisms put in place?
What were the overall outcomes of the intervention?
Were you able to bring about organizational or structural change?
What were your measures of the success of your intervention?
How did CRS measure the success of your work?
How did you measure long term impacts?
Examples of success
How did the changing nature of the civil rights movement and protest activity affect your work?
Have there been changes in CRS over the years?
What changes have occurred in the prison system that has affected what you can and cannot do in those situations?
What do you think are the most important skills and attributes of an effective civil rights mediator?
What do you think has been your greatest strength as a civil rights mediator?
Are there other important lessons that come out of your work?
Praise of CRS workers
Trust between CRS workers
Collaboration between CRS workers
CRS cooperation with other agencies
Difference between civil rights and other mediation
Mediation of identity conflicts
LA riot history
Descriptions of CRS institutional programs
Did CRS ever co-mediate with mediators who were not with the agency?
Did your affiliation with the Justice Department help or hurt you?
How do you set priorities regarding which cases to take and which not?
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by Conflict Management Initiatives and the
Conflict Information Consortium
at the University of Colorado