WHERE NEGOTIATION BEGINS: Can I just tell you who I am?

AUGUST 1, 2019

The Power of Stories 
There is something quite spiritual about storytelling. The power of a story to communicate ideas about people, cultures, or circumstances is profound. People love stories, whether they are animatedly recounted over a cup of tea, read aloud from a 10 -page children’s book, dramatized in a theatre performance or narrated in a 5 minute video: there are some things that cannot be communicated any other way. We could say a few words to describe who we are, but a story helps communicate who we are and how we feel to another person in a radical way – a way that our listeners remember. This inclues:

  • Religion & Culture

  • History & Experiences

  • Perceptions & Needs

  • Emotions

This past weekend twenty-two leaders of buisnesses, political groups, womens groups, and communities from throughout Israel and the Palestinian Territories gathered in Athens, Greece to tackle difficult questions revolving around the topic of negotiation. It may be easy to think of negotiation as two opposing parties gathering in a room to debate areas of conflict. In the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this may look like Israelis and Palestinians assembled in a room debating whether peace can be attained through by a One or a Two State Solution. Yet, the particpants were surprised to find how pivotal it is to prepare before negotiation by researching the stories of the other, delving into questions such as:
         Who are these people? 
         What is their history?
         What are their beliefs and experiences?
The participants soon discovered that these are all foundational questions in the negotiation process in understanding the “other”. Many of the leaders were asked to step into the shoes of the “other” through a role play exercise. An Israeli group was asked to represent the Palestinian position, and a Palestinian group was asked to represent an Israeli position. This role play was fairly successful, each group seemed to represent the other side well. This activity allowed the groups, if only for half a day, to step into the story of the “other”. Overall, the weekend was very successful. The leaders even had a chance to socialize and enjoy some Greek Music in the city together one evening. 
Storytelling may not solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but we’d like to say it’s a good start.