Advice to New Practitioners

Mark Gerzon

Private facilitator, Mediator, Trainer, Author and key organizer of the Congressional Civility Retreats

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: My advice would be don't identify too strongly with the field. The field is a professional category and the more it becomes a professional category the more it needs people to bridge between the field and real life.

Q: What does that mean?

A: That means, if you start to develop your own special language as a conflict resolver, you become less effective. If you start to hang out with people who are conflict resolution specialists, you lose touch with how to talk to policemen and teachers and diplomats and congressman. Don't identify too strongly with the field means you may want a career in the field, but you may want to take what you learned in the field and go out and be a congressman and go out and be a city councilman, or go out and be an educator. That's where we need these skills, we don't need these skills in some professional ghetto of people who've been certified in conflict resolution.

We need this in every aspect of life. To see the field as a resource from which you will take a drink to nourish you to go out into all aspects of the community. Don't see it as a destination. For some people it's fine, if you want to be a professor of conflict resolution, but the real energy is at the frontier between the field and the world.