Shared Questions

Sallyann Roth

Family Therapist, Trainer, and Co-Founder of the Public Conversations Project in Watertown, Massachusetts

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 ???).

We collect all these questions and we put them on a board. Everybody says them out loud. It's an introduction and they look at each other. They are no longer Joe Jones, who's the executive director of XYZ, they're a person who has a lively question.

That question made me think of ones I didn't think of, and suddenly as the group has 20 or 30 questions on the table, suddenly there is a kind of excitement. "Oh! That's what we want to hear about. Oh! I want to talk with you. I'm interested in that also." Suddenly there is a sense of the group sharing a common interest, beyond the interest that we are here to learn what these people are here to tell us. That is one of the ways that we hope to make a parallel between the work that we do with people in conflict and the training. Can it be that in the first or second round or when we get something on paper, they're thinking, "Oh, I can't wait to talk with these people," even if it's with people they might usually be silent with or yelling at.