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Mediation Tip: Power of listening

Mediations are a wonderful forum for people to be able to tell their story, to talk about the unfairness or injustice inflicted on them and how it has impacted them. One thing people sometimes have difficulty doing is…listening. There is a time to talk and a time to listen in every mediation, in fact in every dispute. Consider the last time you felt upset, or angry about something. Did you feel better with someone else telling you what you felt, or how you should feel, or how they saw things? Or, did you feel better once you were able to explain your side and your feelings? Consider how you felt when you were truly listened to, and heard. Most people are unable to move forward, whether to move on or to consider a resolution or compromise, until they feel "heard". So if you feel that way, it also applies to the other side. They need to be heard and listened to before they can move forward, before they can resolve a dispute. Scientific research has shown that people are better able to come off of their hard positions, once they know that the other side has heard and understands their perspective. You don't have to always come to "agreement" about a fact or issue; it is okay to disagree, but the ability to resolve is enhanced when you have heard each other, and when there is some give and take. This is true in mediations. When preparing for a mediation, it may help to give some thought to the other side's perspective, and try to understand it, even if you disagree with it.

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