Extremists, Spoilers, and Difficult Parties

Frank Dukes

Director, Institute for Environmental Negotiation, University of Virginia

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

A: We see people who are really resistant to good process, and who simply think that if you have the right solution that you need to move forward with that and other people are just at fault for not accepting the right solution. That can be a challenge to work with people like that.

Q: Talk a little more about the obstacle between the notion of having a solution and resistance to process, such as someone has an idea of how things will be resolved and there not willing to wait until everyone else agrees with them. How does that work?

A: Because they have the right idea in their view, it does not really matter that other people oppose it, but they think that it is the right thing to do. It can be very righteous but it can be very well intentioned but they simply do not have the experience, or do not have with in their worldview, the idea of that other people may not have the same perspective or share the same concerns, or may not be as far along as they are at any particular time.

Q: So, what do you do about that? How do you address that?

A: Well, I do not know that I am particularly good at that, or that we have had a whole lot of practice at that, because generally we are getting asked into a situation that people have already decided that it is time to bring in some outsiders and that it is time to get some additional help and develop some sort of process that is going to get us to where we need to be. We do run into that, we don't bulldoze over it, and we don't attack people.

It is pretty much the same with pretty much every other issue. What are your concerns? Why do you have these concerns? Can we address those concerns? Have you considered this, this, and this? Looking at what is it that you want to have? What is your final outcome that you want to have or outcomes that you want to have? Is what you are planning to do going to get you the buy in from these people? Is it going to get you the approval that you need for this? That is pretty much it.