Establishing Personal Relationships

Tamra d'Estrée

Conflict Resolution Program, University of Denver

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 ???).

Q: Yeah, and even beyond that, are there different processes for relationship building depending on the circumstance there as well? In terms of tailoring processes for the situation, if there's a race relation problem versus some kind of a-symmetry problem?

A: If it's fairly clear that this setting needs some sort of relationship building, the question is which of the different methods of relationship building should be used here. Well that's a really interesting question. Alana Shapira??? did her dissertation on some of the different models that are used in race relations, so she looked at study circles and prejudice reduction and diversity training and some of these different models. I think part of what she was trying to unpack a bit was what each tries to do and when you might go with one or the other.

Again, how do you choose which model to use, which type of intervention to use? I think it depends on your goals. I think that some of those relationship building processes try to make each side aware of the injury of the other side in such a way that then they can, in a sense it's reducing ignorance about the other side's hurt and making sure that things that have been silenced aren't silenced anymore. They get voiced. Some would argue that that actually doesn't create relationships that well it just helps to clear the air, which may be necessary for a relationship to form, but it can be a little bit divisive too. Antagonistic, you know. Some of the other processes, maybe ones where there's a different kind of sharing that's happening and a kind of respect that's being modeled and either a joint examining of the issues. For instance, Study Circles says there's this issue or these issues and we're going to study them together and we're going to discuss our views and our reaction but in a respectful way.

The goal of that relationship building process is not to, at least initially, air people's experiences of injustice, but to have them almost have a constructive experience. An experience where they've been with the other or the others in a constructive way, that then they can build on. So, the different models for building relationships.