Susan Podziba, USA

Public Policy Mediator, Writer, Author

Susan Podziba is a public policy mediator. Susan designed and mediated many policy issues mostly involving governmental departments from Commerce to Health and Labor for more than 25 years. Based in Boston, she teaches at Harvard Negotiation Institute, MIT and the University of Amsterdam. In 2012, she wrote a book called ‘Civic Fusion: Mediating Polarized Public Disputes’ as well as many articles on negotiation, mediation and consensus building. She was also involved in a dialogue between pro-life and pro-choice parties after an abortion clinic was bombed in Boston which culminated in a joint article in the Boston Globe five years later.

She is listed on the United Nations Mediator Roster and is the recipient of a ‘National Partnership for Reinventing Government’ award. Most of her projects include working with senior leadership of governments, stakeholders, civil society, and the general public. Recently, she created a process design tool for World Bank mediators and assisted with the process design for a national economic policy dialogue in Sudan.

She has a Master’s in City Planning from MIT and a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania.

Why is public policy mediation is needed in today's world?

My guest Susan Podziba is a public policy mediator and wrote a book called ‘Civic Fusion: Mediating Polarized Public Disputes’. Susan explains what public policy mediation is and why it is needed to reason and resolve very complex and polarized issues. She talks about the differences in attitude towards public policy mediation in Europe compared to the U.S i.e some countries in Northern Europe are conflict adverse and consensual. She talks about how types of negotiation work i.e single text negotiation and gives an example of a fascinating moment when opposing parties built an agreement, and her involvement in a dialogue relating to a fatal shooting at an abortion clinic in Boston. She highlights the confusion people have between what’s true and false, how ‘social media is furthering our dissent into our own bubbles so people look for information that affirms their existing position’ and how providing information that parties can rely on is critical for public policy mediation. She goes on to add that ‘we need to discern what can be done to affect grievances’ and ultimately be more curious about the other instead of demeaning.


IE: Hello and welcome back to another program of We can Find a Way, a podcast about conflict resolution. My name is Idil Elveris. So in today’s program, I will let my guest introduce herself.

SP: Hi, I’m Susan Podziba. I’m a public policy mediator, which means I specialize in helping to resolve conflicts that include a government entity. As one of the parties, I work across the public policy spectrum, so I’ve worked on everything from education to environment to transportation to worker safety to energy.

IE: For those only familiar with commercial and civil mediation issues, this may come as a surprise. However, in the US public policy, mediation seems to be increasingly common. Susan designed and mediated many policy issues, mostly involving governmental departments from commerce to health and labor to education for more than 25 years. Based in Boston, she teaches at Harvard Negotiation Institute, MIT and University of Amsterdam. In 2012, she wrote a book called Civic Fusion Mediating Polarized Public Disputes, as well as many articles on negotiation, mediation and consensus building.

She was also involved in a dialogue between pro-life and pro-choice parties after an abortion clinic was bombed in Boston in 1994. You can watch in her website an excerpt from a TV program that the women appear where they discuss the ground rules of the dialogue and how they were trying to not convince the other party or press their point but understand where they were coming from is very heartening. All this dialogue led to a joint article in the Boston Globe in 2001. So, I would recommend Susan’s website for more information about all these public policy mediations that she has conducted. But in this program, Susan explained what basically public policy mediation is and what it entails from needs assessment to the time required and why public policy mediation is needed. She also described methods used in public policy mediation, such as negotiated rulemaking and single text negotiation. Finally, she described what civic fusion is the core concept in her book. We can now go to our interview, which took place on 7th October 2020.

What is policy mediation and why do we need it?

SP: Public policy mediation is a means for bringing stakeholders together with government to develop policies, plans, regulations or city charters or agreements memorandums of understanding that will satisfy the interests of government as well as the stakeholders. The reason why I do this: When one thinks of democracy, democracy is about rule for the people, by the people on behalf of the people. And because there’s a wisdom innate in people who live situations, being able to draw from that wisdom to inform better policy is an excellent means for creating policies that will be actionable and sustainable and achieve the goals for which they were intended. So, for example, if you are developing worker safety standards for construction cranes, there are so many different kinds of cranes. They’ve changed so much over the last 40 years that bringing together people who have different levels of expertise on different aspects of cranes means that the government can access that knowledge and wisdom and develop a set of regulations that will be better positioned to actually protect workers from serious injury and death in their workplaces.

IE: So if it was left to the government on its own, they probably wouldn’t bring those people as many diverse people, maybe?

SP: Well, what they might do is bring experts in as consultants. What I would suggest is that public policy mediation creates a forum for people with those differences in knowledge to be able to deliberate, to speak amongst themselves and together by having them deliberate, by having 20 people talk about the same issues from somewhat different perspectives, leads to the creation of new understandings and therefore better policies that could never be considered without the benefit of those deliberations. For example, when you’re creating regulations or any kind of public policies, it is likely to be unintended consequences where humans were limited. We can’t possibly think about every way that a policy will impact people who are going to live under it. By bringing together people who can think through and essentially clarify the terms that are being used, the words that are being used, you have an opportunity to reduce the level and number of unintended consequences and therefore, again, create more informed policies.

IE: You’re stressing the interests of both parties are satisfied and one of the parties must be government deliberation. So, once we have these elements, I guess we’re talking about policy mediation.

SP: So it isn’t two parties. And I think that’s a real difference with public policy mediation. So it’s more typical for me to be mediating with 18 to 25 parties.

IE: Multi party?

SP: Yes. And each of those parties represents thousands or perhaps millions of people. And so they also have the benefit of consulting with their constituents and bringing that back. So, the difference between having 20 people negotiating versus two is that you have all of the different shades of perspectives. So, you get a much more nuanced understanding. The agreements tend to be developed within the nuance. So when you see an issue in black and white terms or in primary colors, there’s so much more room for impasse because you’re not understanding the issue in all its complexity. When you have 20 people around, it’s almost like a symphony. You have different instruments, and each contributes what it has to the whole. And that’s the way you can find agreements, the way innovative solutions emerge from the deliberations.

IE: So why do we need public policy mediation?

SP: You don’t need public policy mediation in every case, it’s a tool to be used where it makes sense to use it. When there’s an issue that’s resolvable by government parties and consultants, then that tool should be used. When there are instances where issues are very complex or very polarized, bringing people together and getting more informed perspectives is a helpful way to resolve an issue. So again, it’s a tool to be used when the complexity requires. You need the different actors to articulate the perspectives so that they can be measured and integrated. And so that’s a means for managing. The complexity is that you have 20 different people articulating aspects of it. And so it’s much easier to build the solution by having different people articulate each of those perspectives.

IE: It’s a tool in the toolbox and not every situation requires it. Mostly we need it when there’s a complex issue, polarized issue, and if we’re talking about today, everything is polarized, almost everything. So I guess we need it more and more?
SP: Polarization today is something that in 30 years of mediation practice I’ve never seen. So public policy mediation is tedious in a way because you have to talk about the very specifics of the issue. Once you could get people talking about an issue, the polarization is likely to be reduced in a public policy mediation, you allow people to articulate their perspectives, but you very quickly try to move people from philosophizing to tangible issues. In the tangible issues, the passion is still there, but people need to work hard to reason through the issues as opposed to speaking in very broad philosophical issues.

IE: Public policy mediation was also something that people in Europe got interested in. So can you share your observations as to what were the differences between a training or conference about the subject in Europe and the US like Sweden, Finland, Netherlands? These are like more consensual countries, more policy input than winner takes all, kind of like majoritarian systems. What were your observations?

SP: So I can tell you a couple of differences. So, one is Congress passes a bill and the president signs it into law. And then there are administrative agencies that develop regulations to implement those laws. So, a lot of my work exists at the executive administrative level. So, with the Department of Education, the US Environmental Protection Agency. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration where laws have been passed and there is a need to create greater detail in order to be able to implement that in Europe. The party system is different from in the US, so a lot of the negotiations happen at the party level in a parliamentary process.

IE: How does public policy mediation fit into the legislative process as opposed to the administrative process?

SP: That’s one difference. Another difference I would say is that in the US we tend to be pragmatic problem solvers. And I remember being in Italy speaking at a theatre that had been taken over by the community because the government locked people out. So I was speaking and somebody said, “Here we’re principled”. You’re talking about American pragmatism and there’s something to that, right? Because as a mediator, I’m always looking for the pragmatic solutions. And when people want to hold to a principle of justice or of rights without refining that into strategies, there’s a complexity there. Thirdly, I would say there is also a difference sometimes in the countries like in Northern Europe that tend to be more consensual, they also tend to be more conflict averse. So, in mediation what I often am working to do is to elevate the conflict or to enumerate the conflict in order to be able to address it. And often what I see in some of the countries that are more conflict averse is if it stirs up trouble, they’ll just set it aside until a consensus is more likely to emerge.

IE: The attitude to conflict is basically very different, especially in consensual democracies.

SP: On the other hand, I would say the processes that have emerged in those countries have been very suited to the cultures that they’re in. They have actually been able to use the tools of public policy mediation in very powerful ways by refining the tool to fit the cultures that they exist in. They do a lot more upfront work to prepare people for a mediation. They do a lot more research to identify what the issues and options might be. So, by the time they bring people together, they fertilize the ground to be able to succeed.

IE: Whereas in America, as you have described, the Senate passes something and then the administration agencies have to deal with the implementation, whereas the food has been already prepared with a lot of deliberation. So it’s kind of like one is before, one is after kind of thing, but also the conflict. Averseness et cetera comes into play.

SP: I guess it comes into play really depends on the context. So, if you’re developing regulations, yes, I think that’s the difference. If you’re trying to develop, let’s say, a port or a large development, then I think there probably are more similarities in the way. So, one is when as often I say as a mediator, if the group doesn’t reach consensus, the government will still likely act. And that’s a different leverage than if there is no consensus, then nothing will happen.

IE: You mentioned negotiation, mediation, one tool. So it’s a lot of process design. You basically assess the situation, try to understand what is needed and then act. And I have seen on your website that in one case you have chosen the path of negotiated rulemaking, like writing a legislation basically, as opposed to a single text negotiation. Can you tell us a little bit more about these two tools?

SP: The way single text negotiation emerged, the way I’ve seen it written about is where the mediator speaks with the different parties and creates a text and then asks the parties to respond and make criticisms of the text. And then the mediator revises that text. And that goes on and on until there’s an agreement. As a mediator, I’m more like a midwife. I’m bringing the agreement from the parties as opposed to preparing the agreement for the parties. On the other hand, when you’re writing a complex document, of course there are many drafts. I workshop the issues, which means I get people to talk about what is embedded within each issue, what they’re passionate about, what their key issues are. And then we start to try and develop agreements in concept. It then leaps to a written draft that’s typically written by either a drafting team or a government entity. That draft then comes back to the parties and we go through the draft and we revise it in real time where there are areas where there are no agreements. I might have multiple options on that draft agreement. I might have a block of white space showing that that issue has not yet been addressed or resolved. Similarly, we’re working with multiple drafts of an agreement. It’s not about me getting their input. It’s about their deliberations on the precision of the words being used in that document.

IE: If it’s drafted by the mediator, you know, when somebody tries to change it, the mediator might even be offended.

SP: Well, I would say it’s counter to my underlying theory and action. Because what I’m trying to do is draw from the wisdom and knowledge of the parties and their deliberations amongst each other, as opposed to me being the center of understanding of their information. So, one of the fascinating moments in a mediation is where there’s a word that is in the draft and somebody will say, “No” that doesn’t get at it, and people will throw out different words. And you learn so much about why each word doesn’t work and it gets you closer and closer, finally, to the word that everyone says, “yes, yes, that works”. And that’s a fascinating moment that a mediator, his or her own could never do by themselves, because you’ve got 20 people saying, “no, that word means this”. And it doesn’t exactly capture what is most important to me. And you go through 10 or 12 words and then finally land on the one that everyone starts shaking their head yes to. And that can only happen in that context where the parties themselves are building the agreement.

IE: How much time is required for this kind of work? I guess it depends on the issue, but if you have that many parties, it’s a complex issue, as you have said, and the debate is very polarized.

SP: We’ve been talking about negotiated rulemaking and a typical negotiated rulemaking case in the pre-COVID days would be something like 6 to 9 months with 2 to 3 day meetings each month and lots of work in between drafts.

IE: Coming and going, preparing?

SP: Caucusing and research.

IE: And how many people on your team mediation team?

SP: Yeah, sometimes it’s just me and sometimes it’s me and a co mediator.

IE: I guess we can now address “talking with the enemy” because I was reading the Boston Globe article yesterday. Then I have read something else and I understand that the secret talks have been taking place for five years. And after five years, they were able to create something. So, we’re talking about something much, much longer than 6 to 9 months. Can you tell us how this started? How did it go?

SP: Let me just start by saying the article was kind of the very end of a process and a lot was happening throughout those five years. So let me get started. In my town, actually, there were two women’s health clinics where fatal shootings occurred, and it was during a period of time where the rhetoric was very violent in nature. There was a term that was being used by the far right called justifiable homicide, which meant that it was okay to kill an abortion doctor because it would save babies from being killed. That was the tone of the rhetoric that was being used in here in Massachusetts. We had someone come from New Hampshire and shoot up two clinics. As a result of that, there was a call by the governor and by the head of the Catholic Church in the area for what they called common ground talks. Everybody wanted to protect against future violence in the Commonwealth. A colleague and I rose to that call and conducted an assessment to determine whether or not there was something useful and beneficial about bringing together people to have those discussions. What we learned was that they had to be secret because there were threats against people who would participate in such discussions.

And as a result of our assessment, we determined that the best participants were the leaders of the pro-life and pro-choice movements, which turned out to be six women. And we started meeting with them to determine what their goals were. And one of the critical goals was to reduce the level of violence in the rhetoric that was being used. But what happened in those discussions very quickly was there was a very strong bond among the women, even as it was impossible for them to connect across a gap of beliefs. So, the Catholic women, the pro-life women believe that life begins at conception. The pro-choice women believe that women have a right to terminate a pregnancy if that’s their choice. And so, with that gap in place, we continue to have conversations to better understand the differences, to better understand similarities, and to talk about what could be done in the Commonwealth because of the threats of violence. And so throughout those deliberations, there were actions that were taken. For example, on the first anniversary of the shootings, women who headed up the major pro-choice organization, Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts spoke at the memorial and said we know that there are people on both sides of this issue who mourn the deaths of the women on that fateful day and who are committed to non-violence. She said that in one of our confidential meetings that she could have said: “This is a call to action. We’re under attack” and used it for fund raising. But instead, she used it for healing. And that was the quote that was on every TV station that night. And so as a result of the women meeting each other and getting to know each other and having a shared goal, they were able to bring the rhetoric level down.

IE: And they have also seen the necessity of doing so.

SP: And they came to see each other not as enemies, but as humans on different sides of an issue. They didn’t lose any of their passion for what they believed in and for their commitment to their side of the issue. But they understood that each was acting from their own set of moral principles as opposed to being an evil person. And that opened up the possibilities for their working to secure the Commonwealth as the common good as the public goal.

IE: I think there were some very interesting moments in that process, like they have discovered which words were really like triggering the other party, like Baby killer or whatever. A pro-choicer states: I have now understood that life itself is more important than the quality of life for them. They have also, I guess, not only changed the rhetoric, but they have gained a deeper understanding, respect, but also learned how to handle a divisive process by being more constructive.

SP: I think all of those things are true. One of the moments that you referred to is what I call a hot button exercise. And this was literally in the first meeting. They were all so frightened of that first meeting. So, we asked them to list out the words that triggered them. And as you said, so fetus or baby killer or feminazi. And we listed out all of these words on flipchart paper and we covered the entire room in flipchart paper covered with words that were triggers. And then we asked them to have a conversation about the issue of abortion without using any of those words. That was very eye opening because first of all, they understood that each of those words was code embedded in each of those words was a whole system of belief. So if you think of fetus for the pro-life side, that makes very scientific and very it’s sanitizes the product of an abortion. On the other hand, unborn child for the pro-choice side was suggesting that there was already a being a live being. So, each of those words had embedded within them a whole philosophy, a whole set of beliefs and understandings. So that was their first learning. Then when they tried to have the conversation without those words, it was next to impossible for them. So, then it became kind of, wait, you use that word, it’s over there, or you use that word, it’s over there. And there was a lot of laughter and a lot of connectivity as a result of that because they were embedding on an exercise that was very difficult for all of them. So, they kind of became a team in that exercise, and that really was a great way to open the conversation so that people could start to learn the differences that they shared.

IE: Do you think this could have been possible if it was six Men?

SP: I think it would have been very different. People were very open to sharing their own personal experiences with pregnancy and with abortion and miscarriages. Men might have been able to share stories of their partners, but it’s very different when it’s coming from your own life experience. They were very open to each other in the way I think that we sometimes experience women as being more open and more able to be vulnerable. It doesn’t mean that men wouldn’t have gotten to that point. I think we spoke a little bit about process design. The process design would have been different had it been a mixed or all male witnessing COVID.

IE: I mean, you have addressed all these very divisive issues from housing to crisis response to education, and you have tackled all of them through this public policy mediation or any other tool that you have designed according to the process. So witnessing the COVID now, there are so many public policy failures, debates, divisiveness. Are you saying, for instance, oh, I should have been engaged in that department or that area, this agency? Did it really trigger anything in you?

SP: That’s a difficult question because I think I’m constantly thinking, what might I have done? We are really in unique times. One of the elements of public policy mediation is trusted information. And so it’s always critical to provide all of the parties with information that they can rely on. That sometimes is difficult because a lot of information gets generated to support different positions. We have to work with that. So, either one needs to find a trusted source or one brings together a panel of people with different perspectives and allows the negotiators to question why people have gotten different conclusions. And what that requires is really asking people to illustrate and to identify the assumptions that they use that leads them to analyze information in a certain way. Today, we have this complete confusion about what’s truth, what’s false, what’s fake, what’s created. And we also have social media that is furthering our descent into our own bubbles so people look for information that affirms their existing positions.

What was so amazing about the abortion talks was the women saying they appreciated being intellectually and spiritually stretched, that they found they learned more about the issue that they were they had committed their lives to by being in conversation with people who had different opinions from them. It forced them to articulate more clearly what they believed and it helped them to understand more about the other people as people and as political actors. So, in order for there to be any kind of movement on the issues that we’re facing today, we need to find a way to enable people to desire and see benefit from being stretched beyond their own positions and their continuously reaffirmed positions. That’s what happens in a public policy. Mediation is I always say so people often walk into the room certain about how to solve the issues they face, and then as soon as they hear other people speak and understand that a consensus agreement requires everyone in the room to concede, then they start to understand that their proposed solution isn’t going to fly. And so then, because they’re committed to solving the issue on the table, they start to become curious and want to learn from the other people in order to integrate that new information into the next solution that they’re going to propose. So, I talk a lot about moving from certainty to uncertainty to a place of not knowing to curiosity. And we’ve lost our curiosity about others in order for the tool that I can bring to the table. To be effective, people need to become more curious about the other instead of so demeaning of the other.

IE: I think there is an anger that needs to political helplessness makes people angry, but also it leads to this demeaning attitude, which is again, then incurious and unhelpful. It’s all black and white, these evil people, well, they’re not evil more than you and me or anybody who thinks like us. Coming back to the question, is there anything you could have done differently in this administration?

SP: I don’t think that I would have been engaged by this administration. I think there have been strategies of purposeful disinformation. And so, somebody like me would fly in the face of that because I would be continuously trying to find information that everyone could trust and also to finding out what those grievances actually were and are that can be evolved into policy. We have a lot of grievance in this country. Grievances are real, but we need to discern what can be done to affect in a positive way those grievances. So we have a racial reckoning going on, which has to do with policing. But it has to do with housing and it has to do with education, and it has to do with opportunity and it has to do with implicit bias. So, these issues are very large and public policy mediation is really a tool for a very specific cut of issues because you have to determine who should participate. So, I had an email from somebody that wanted to talk about education and policing in racism. And so in my world, I would say, well, if we talk about education and policing, then we’re bringing together police officers, police chiefs, law enforcement specialists. And if we’re bringing together educators, teachers, students, parents, supervisors, administrators, why would we bring them together? What’s the policy that they share? That’s the level of clarity that public policy mediation requires because you have to figure out who needs to be at the table in order to articulate the different perspectives that are in existence on those issues. So, if we can get to questions that can be articulated as issues and potential policies, then I think public policy mediation might be helpful. Now, I had an op-ed in a publication called The Hill where I was looking for issues that could be unifying issues. My idea was let’s find an issue that doesn’t cut right and left that can be addressed during a public policy mediation to teach people what it can look like. My op-ed suggested let’s do something on cyber privacy and security, because I think the vast majority of the public does not want their information mined and sold. So I thought that would be an issue that we could circle around and have some interesting conversations about. So that was the way that I was trying to think about how my tools might be useful in this very polarized context.

IE: So it’s another way of saying there is no political will to address these issues through public policy mediation. Well, actually there is a benefit. So you have to almost like reassert the relevance of this kind of process to also their cause, that it can be also politically helpful to them to be able to sit at the table again.

SP: I think that’s a very good observation. Power is always an element of public policy. Mediation and political will to address an issue is also critical to successful public policy mediation. In fact, during an assessment, one of the things we try to determine is the feasibility of moving to a negotiated phase of the process. And those are the things that we look for. If there is no political will to address an issue, then it doesn’t make sense to bring people together to try to address that issue. And if a party, for example, if the government can act unilaterally and affect the kind of change that it wants, then it also has no rational reason for engaging stakeholders in a labor intensive, resource intensive process. So, I would say this administration seemed to believe that it could act and has acted unilaterally to get its will fostered right. We see that with all the executive orders where the President can’t get Congress to pass the legislation that he wants. So, he uses the power of the executive order to force certain changes. In that instance, it would be very hard to see that kind of administration initiating public policy mediation unless it was already required under existing law. So in that case, yes, I think that demonstrations are a form of asserting power. What we’re seeing all over the world right now is the assertion of people saying “Enough”. The right to demonstrate is an element of democracy. However, if the other parts of your democracy are effective, people don’t have a need to be in the streets. So if your elected officials and your bodies of your legislators and your executives are functioning properly, then people don’t feel a need to be in the streets. Really, demonstrations are a sign that the systems aren’t working, they’re not functioning well. And so the people’s only choice is to go out in the streets with their bodies and say, You must listen to us because the system is not responsive.

IE: I have your book, I read it. Can you still tell us what civic fusion is and how did you come up with this kind of terminology that sounds like so much physics?

SP: When I was facilitating the abortion talks, there was this very powerful force or a set of forces, right? So the more we spoke about and experienced the gap between these women, the more powerful the connection among them seemed to be. It was like vibrating and it was a unity that I couldn’t understand. I started to try and think, what is that that I’m seeing? It was so powerful. The women would say, this feels like we’re on sacred ground. This is extraordinary. And it was something extraordinary. It was beyond the usual impact of a conversation. So, I got these magnets. When you put the positive and positive ends of a magnet together, you get a gap that you can’t get them together into a stable bond. So, then I bought more magnets and bigger magnets and different shaped magnets. I couldn’t get a stable bond among all the magnets. At the time I was teaching at MIT, I had an MIT email address, so I send emails to physics professors at MIT and said, I’m experiencing these forces and I believe that there must be a natural force that explains what it is I’m seeing in the room. And finally, one man, Alan Lightman, who’s an author, one of my favorite authors, emailed me back. He said “come in and let’s have a conversation”. And within minutes of my explanation of what I was experiencing, he said: “You’re not looking for a second electrical force. You’re looking for the nuclear force”. And he explained that if you think about the nucleus of an atom that’s filled with protons and neutrons, those protons should repel. But because they’re close enough, the nuclear force kicks in and it holds them together. And what a nuclear bomb actually is, is where you shoot a neutron into that nucleus and it blows up because all of that repelling energy is finally released. It literally took me eight years to come to the term and I was thinking about fusion, civil fusion. And finally, it came to me civic fusion. And that’s what I named the ability of people who are passionate and different from each other, who would repel each other but have extreme passion. If you bring them close enough together, they will bond to solve a shared public problem. And that’s what civic fusion is.

IE: Well, actually, I think it really brings us to the beginning, which is about deliberation. It’s the power of deliberation almost about a civic issue that creates that bond. They could have repelled each other under normal circumstances, but the process brings them together and creates this bond.

SP: That’s correct. And I think what’s different from the way mediation and consensus building often gets discussed is that what’s critical to civic fusion is a commitment to articulation of the difference and then respect for those differences. So it’s not about finding consensus by getting the low hanging fruit or searching for common ground. It’s by identifying, articulating and respecting that difference. And in the context of respect for that difference, a commitment to work together to solve a shared public problem.

IE: Susan, thank you so much.

I would like to summarize the discussions in the program now. Susan first underlined the important points in a public policy mediation. One of that was deliberation, which led to satisfaction of both parties of a debate, whether it’s the government or the other party. She explained how deliberation in complex and polarized issues was helpful to create ownership of the end product. At the same time, one could see how time consuming all this public policy mediation could be. She talked about the process taking up to 6 to 9 months to three days each month and lots of communication in between. This is a huge commitment to a complex problem solving on her part.

I also found the hot button exercise in the Talking with the Enemy dialogue very helpful, especially where the case is like abortion, where both parties feel very passionate about. It must have been an amazing realization of how much more the parties could convey to each other when they refrain from using those terms. And in fact, Susan talked about the bond between the parties, and it is this bond actually that contributed to her coming up with the term in her book, Civic Fusion. So, in today’s very tiring policy debates where parties often feel anger and helplessness and impute an evilness to the other, the desire of these women to be so stretched sounds pretty amazing to me.

I hope you enjoyed this program. I will upload a picture of Susan in the Instagram account of We can find a way. I’m also going to have Turkish translation of the program in the blog and as always, I thank Efsane Şimal for that. I will also be tweeting some of the important quotes in Twitter. So do let me think about your views about this program at I’m grateful to Alper Koç, who is the sponsor of We Can Find a Way and Can Aksoy, who helps me in marketing. Thank you and see you in the next program.