If ever there was a time that could shape people into mediators it was the tumultuous decades of the 60's and 70's. From the Vietnam War and civil rights movement to various political dilemmas, these years were rife with conflict. Ann Clarke grew up in the midst of this all and from a very early age, she recalls feeling a connection to difference. Different cultures intrigued her, as did the difference they created. In fact, her pursuit of understanding difference was so strong that it led her to study geography, and law.
It was during law school, that Ann became acquainted with Alternative Dispute Resolutions (ADR). She recalls watching ADR develop into a discipline, and as it did, so did her experiences with negotiation. When Ann began working in management she got to witness internal conflict between and within agencies.
Once retiring from public service, Ms. Clark became a part of the Mandell Gisnet Center for Conflict Resolution. Ann mentions that in all her years of working with Department of Aviation, NASA, and other State agencies, she was never able to hold a truly neutral position when overseeing disputes. She was finally able to attain a truly neutral position when she began mediating.
During her time at the MGC, Ann has specialized in mediating civil harassment cases in court, and in elder mediation. Regardless of the category that a case might fall into, Ann tries to approach each mediation with several guidelines. First off, she suggests, ``Instead of focusing solely on the points of dispute, I try to be alert to the areas of agreement ... (because) once you find common cause, it opens the door to reframe ``. Secondly, and this comes as no surprise, she urges that listening is paramount to this practice, ``Listen to what is being said, and what isn't and ask questions wisely``. These are just some of the valuable suggestions that Ann has to share with those interested in learning more about conflict and mediation. And since these words come from someone that chose to make a career out of understanding differences and disputes, we might be wise to listen.