In the realm of mediation, the difference between a skilled facilitator and an average mediator lies in the ability to actively listen. Active listening goes beyond the passive act of hearing; it involves a dynamic process that can transform the entire mediation experience. In this blog post, we explore the five crucial aspects of active listening that set apart an exceptional mediator.
1. Getting Your Story
Every participant in a conflict, whether it’s a legal dispute or a personal conflict, comes with a unique story. A skilled mediator actively solicits and receives this narrative. Recognizing that each person holds a specific knowledge and history of the dispute, a mediator ensures that the participant’s story is heard and acknowledged.
2. Probing and Clarifying Meanings
Words carry meanings that go beyond their literal interpretation. An active listener, as a mediator, delves deeper into the participant’s statements. They probe and clarify the meanings behind the words, uncovering the hidden subtext and nuances that may not be immediately apparent. This process adds layers of understanding to the communication.
3. Listening for Emotions
Emotions are the driving force behind any dispute. Active listening involves not only hearing the words spoken but also discerning the emotions embedded in those words. Anxiety, fear, anger, stress – these emotions are often the core of the conflict. A skilled mediator tunes into these emotions, recognizing their significance in resolving the dispute.
4. Summarizing the Case
After the story has been told, meanings clarified, and emotions understood, the mediator undertakes the crucial task of summarizing the case. This involves painting a comprehensive picture that encapsulates the essence of the conflict. A well-summarized case sets the stage for a more focused and effective resolution process.
5. Valuing Silence
Silence is a powerful tool in the hands of a skilled mediator. Rather than dominating the conversation, a mediator values and utilizes silence to elicit more involvement from the parties. The ability to absorb information, allow participants to reflect, and encourage them to share more contributes significantly to the depth of understanding in the mediation process.
Letting Your Story Be Heard
In mediation, the desire for one’s day in court is often rooted in the fundamental need to have one’s story heard. A skilled mediator serves as a dedicated listener, offering undivided attention to each participant. Unlike other parties involved, such as attorneys focused on billable hours or opponents driven by winning, a mediator is solely interested in understanding your story, its meanings, and the emotions that drive the dispute.
So, if you find yourself in need of mediation, seek a skilled facilitator who not only hears your words but also listens actively, paving the way for a resolution that goes beyond the surface and addresses the core of your conflict.