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News

Council seeks more options for community center

Council seeks more options for community center


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos City Council approved an appropriation to examine options for a new community center to replace the aging Hillview facility.

The Los Altos City Council last week voted narrowly in favor of examining further opti...

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Schools

Local schools participate in  national Hour of Code activities

Local schools participate in national Hour of Code activities


Ellie Van HOutte/Town Crier
Himan Shu Raj, a volunteer from Microsoft, advises Los Altos High ninth-graders, from left, Serhat Suzer, Jamie Bennett and Chris Yang as they participate in the school’s Hour of Code Showcase.

Local schools participa...

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Community

Take a dive into the holiday archive

Take a dive into the holiday archive

Town Crier staff made a quick cruise back through the newspaper's archives to find some late-December reading as inspiration for eating, drinking, decorating and more:

Beloved holiday books build the spirit of the season and staff at Los Altos’ Li...

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Sports

Pinewood poised for another title run

Pinewood poised for another title run


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Pinewood’s girls basketball team is receiving contributions from several new players, including freshman Stella Kailahi, above.

Complacency shouldn’t be a problem for the defending Division V state champion Pinewood S...

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Comment

Letters to the Editor

Ticket motorists for U-turns on Main Street

As I was walking downtown on Main Street recently, something came to me out of the blue. The town of Los Altos is missing out on a huge revenue stream. I realized that if all the cars – there were th...

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Special Sections

Looking Ahead

Looking Ahead


s in line to be mayor of Mountain View in 2015.

Mountain View anticipates the following changes in 2015:

• Beginning Jan. 1, Mountain View City Councilmembers will receive a raise to $1,000 per month as a result of the passage of Measure A in...

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Business

Your 2015 stock market game plan

It’s been a maddening month because of oil and gas, especially in stocks and bonds. Then, consumer spending pushed stocks higher Thursday, easing investors’ jitters about the global economy and prompting them to consider how to invest in ...

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Books

Gawande's

Gawande's "Being Mortal" proves an important book on aging


Books about death and dying are usually not on my list of “must reads.”

I couldn’t resist, however, the best-selling “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” (Metropolitan Books, 2014) by Atul Gawande.

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People

SANGEETA SACHDEVA

SANGEETA SACHDEVA

Sangeeta Sachdeva, 55, wife of Subhash Sachdeva and mother to Natasha and Tanya, died at 8:54pm, Sunday, December 7, 2014 from respiratory failure.

Sangeeta was born on October 18, 1959 in Delhi, India. She was born to Moti Sagar and Raj Kapoor an...

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Travel

South Tahoe renovations enhance off-mountain seasonal fun

As any enthusiast knows well, there is more to the enjoyment of winter sports than skiing or snowboarding.

While many winter resorts make minor upgrades each season, the off-mountain attractions and amenities can be as enticing as the activities on ...

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Stepping Out

Aurora Singers to emit 'Musical Glow' Friday

Aurora Singers to emit 'Musical Glow' Friday


courtesy of Aurora Singers
The Aurora Singers are scheduled to perform a seasonal concert Friday night in Palo Alto.

The Aurora Singers’ “Winter’s Musical Glow” holiday concert is set for 7 p.m. Friday at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Pal...

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Spiritual Life

Enter the superhero: Finding the God who loves you

In my life-coaching practice, I see a lot of pain. Much of it stems from fear and guilt, often expressed as low self-esteem, anxiety, a lack of forgiveness both for oneself and others, anger – and so on.

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Magazine

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years

Christmas At Our House home tour celebrates 26 years


Courtesy of Christopher Stark
Homes on the St. Francis High School Women’s Club’s Christmas at Our House Holiday Home Tour showcase a variety of architectural styles.

The days grow short on sunshine but long on nostalgia as the holidays approach...

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Local mediators write book on 'Unexpected Gift' of conflict

Conflict is never pretty, but most people could learn a thing or two about resolving it from the new book “Conflict – The Unexpected Gift: Making the Most of Disputes in Life and Work” (iUniverse, 2013).

Written by two experienced local mediators, Jack Hamilton and Elisabeth Seaman, the book compiles useful tips that have proven effective over two decades of trial and error.

“We’re giving them the tools they can use in their own lives,” said Hamilton, who teaches at Stanford University and co-authored the book with fellow mediator and business partner Seaman.

Sharlene Gee and Hillary Freeman also contributed to the book.

As a volunteer mediator with the Palo Alto Mediation Program, Seaman facilitated one of the breakout groups in a December 2012 meeting to gather input on five facilities-sharing scenarios for Bullis Charter School and the Los Altos School District.

Hamilton regularly gives talks for local groups, including a book discussion earlier this year at BridgePoint at Los Altos. He also headed a training session for volunteer mediators with the Los Altos, Mountain View and Palo Alto mediation programs.

Both Hamilton and Seaman have served as volunteer and professional mediators for 20 years.

Conflict is “a result of unfounded assumptions about each other. It’s the assumptions that trigger the emotions,” Hamilton said.

The book introduces a “Ladder of Assumptions”: Step 1, Assumptions of the Facts; Step 2, Interpretations; Step 3, Motives; and Step 4, Generalizations.

“It’s a metaphor for how the human mind works,” Hamilton said.

Built into the book are methods for helping people identify and write their own ladders, he added.

“Some people see things as black or white,” Seaman said. “Things are more generally complicated than that.”

The first step to resolving conflict, Seaman said, is to “become aware of how our thinking processes work.”

Next comes something that people in general don’t do well – listen. The authors underline the importance of becoming an attentive listener. They offer a four-step process to improve communication: encourage dialogue by drawing the speaker out, clarify statements to understand more fully, restate to let the speaker know you’re listening and summarize to review what’s been said.

Good listening, they said, breaks down stereotypes and preconceived notions about the opposing party.

“When people come to mediation, they’re breathing fire,” Hamilton said. “(Mediation) enables disputants to get a sense over time of who that other person is.”

For instance, Hamilton said that because his educational background and experience was greater than Seaman’s, he figured her ideas would not be as good and thus more easily discounted.

“As long as I held her in that box, I would never have heard her good ideas,” he said.

Seaman pointed to a case between two brothers who had a conflict over property, and, more importantly, did not get along with one another. Repairing the brothers’ broken relationship took precedence before any agreement over property could be reached.

“What kind of relationship are you going to have when this (agreement) is over?” she asked the brothers.

Another four-word mantra the mediators espouse: Stop, Listen, Accept, Collaborate.

Hamilton said the book is “pretty much for anyone 15 or older. It’s full of case studies.”

Other helpful advice includes learning how to apologize effectively, finding humility and becoming more self-aware.

And the “Unexpected Gift” referenced in the title? That, according to the authors, is emerging from conflict a better person.

“There’s a tinge of idealism here,” Hamilton said, a bit tongue in cheek, of his reasons for compiling the book. “We’re trying to build world peace one person at a time.”

Hamilton is scheduled to teach a conflict resolution class Jan. 10 to March 7 at Avenidas in Palo Alto. For more information, call 289-5400.

“Conflict – The Unexpected Gift” is available for checkout at the Los Altos main library, 13 S. San Antonio Road. Los Altos Voices for Peace purchased and donated the book to the library.

To order the book and for more information, visit iuniverse.com.

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