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A publication for and about state employees

Did you hear what she said?

A testimonial
Barbara Young

Susan Young Crane and Barbara Young

Susan Young Crane and Barbara Young

My daughter Susan was a junior at Capital High School when she complained that I was not listening to her requests and that her needs were going unanswered. For example, when she needed to be picked up or dropped off for band or soccer practice, she said that I didn’t hear her or follow through with her requests. Susan had heard about the Pierce County Dispute Resolution Center and called for information. I was invited to go to mediation, and agreed. I found my way to the meeting place, in WeResWA CFD Ad 2015stminster Presbyterian Church, feeling anxious and vulnerable, yet hoping that this mediation might help span our growing gap of communication.

A man and woman sat at the end of a long narrow table and reviewed the process of mediation. They seemed calm, firm, and supportive. Susan and I told our stories. Susan said, “I want a third party to hear my side of the story.”
Susan was initially taken aback when one of the mediators asked her, perhaps in a playful way, “What are you doing to annoy your mother?” Not sure what the mediator was after, she replied directly and honestly to the question. Then the mediator turned to me and asked, “Can you repeat what Susan just told you? Did you hear what she said?” I sat in silence. The feeling in the room changed. Although I was facing Susan and she had spoken directly to me, I had not heard, nor could I repeat what she had said.

Some may call this a “peak experience,” an “ah-ha” event, or a moment that is transformative. I was certain that I, as the parent, was infallible. Susan in her 16-year-old wisdom found a way through the Dispute Resolution Center to reach me. At that mediation session, and in that transformative moment, I recognized my fallibility. You see, Susan is on the Autism Spectrum; she is honest, concise, and direct in her communications. She told me, “I have the disability; you have the listening problem.”

Now, 20 years after that mediation session, I am in training as a mediator. Susan graduated from Washington State University studying Genetics and Cell Biology. She is currently Bee Manager for the Pierce County Bee Association and travels by bus to Olympia from Tacoma two evenings a week to teach swing and blues dancing, and we use that time to chat. I cherish that time with Susan. When I asked her recently if I had improved my listening skills, she hesitated, and then said, “Perhaps, just a little.”

There are Ten (10) Dispute Resolution Centers that are member agencies of the WA State Employee Combined Fund Drive. Your contribution to your local DRC helps it provide services to families like Barbara and Susan and countless others. Below are each of the 10 centers along with their CFD member numbers and website addresses.

Center name CFD Charity Code Web site
DRC of Grays Harbor & Pacific Co 0316179
DRC of Kitsap County 0316168
DRC of Lewis County 0481658
DRC of Thurston County 0316167
DRC of Yakima & Kittitas Co. 0316188
DRC of King County 0316206
Peninsula DRC Clallam Co code 0321096,
Jefferson Co Code 0316191
Whatcom DRC 1481225
Center for Dialog and Resolution 0316195, Pierce County
Community Mediation Services 1481170 Clark County

The Dispute Resolution Center of Thurston County contributed this story.

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