By Fried, Rachel
Nation's Cities Weekly , Vol. 29, No. 14
While attending the National League of Cities' 2006 Congressional City Conference in Washington, D.C., I was given the opportunity to attend two Leadership Training Institute seminars: "Community Meetings: Practical Tools for Effective Public Forums" and "Negotiation Skills and Strategies," Both of these seminars, along with the youth sessions that I attended, were interesting, informative and valuable.
From the Community Meetings: Practical Tools for Effective Public Forums seminar, I learned how to organize a productive community meeting, especially when presenting or discussing a controversial issue. Pamela Plumb and Dee Kelsey, the seminar's trainers, emphasized identifying a solid meeting purpose and tangible desired outcomes of the meeting.
I learned that it is important to create a container for the meeting by laying out the ground rules and allowing for extra, unexpected concerns or questions to be brought up.
Furthermore, when the public meeting or forum concerns a controversial issue, I must be prepared to deal with passionate, emotional community members, some for and others against the issue at hand. I must respect their concerns or fears, and learn how many others share such concerns.
A good public meeting listens to all points of view and creatively attempts to achieve its desired outcomes, whether such outcomes include a list of concerns or measured public acceptance of a new policy.
The Negotiation Skills and Strategies seminar was also extremely interesting. From trainer Dr. Neil Katz, I learned that there are two approaches to negotiation. The first is the traditional, position-based approach and the second and more effective is the interest-based approach to negotiation. …