Effective Communication in Mediation

Note on how to cite this journal:

Author, Date of the post, WMO Conflict Insight, Title of the post,  ISSN: 2628-6998, https://worldmediation.org/conflict-insight 

Communication is an essential skill necessary for establishing interpersonal interaction in human relationships and is an important factor for establishing various forms of social influence.

Effective communication is a skill that we are not born with but acquire and improve over time.

The primary goal of effective communication is to send clear messages that, as feedback, have a positive response and reaction from the participants in the conversation. Communication is the prevention of misunderstandings as well as the easy way to overcome the barriers we face in different forms in our daily lives.

In the context of mediation, we emphasize the importance of effective communication aimed at a positive resolution of conflict. We will answer the question why effective communication is crucial to the resolution of conflict. What verbal and non-verbal skills a mediator should have. What forms of communication and communicators exist? Why it is important for the mediator to know how to listening interlocutor/’s. To know that it identifies the profile of actors in the mediation process by the given types of a communicator.

The most widespread methodology applied in the context of effective communication in mediation is NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming). An approach that recommends the World Mediation Organization WMO as an effective technique for resolving conflict situations and reconciling the views of conflicting parties.

The essence of applying the NLP concept is to improve the relationship between individuals and organizations and contribute to positive results in the fields of activity. In mediation, the expected results of NLP implementation is more effective communication and positive dispute resolution.

NLP is a communication model based on strategy (planning) the organization that leads to personal change and positive development. As an area with many tools, it contributes to professional, personal development and better family relationships.

In mediation, NLP contributes to the development of strategic thinking. Focusing on planning that leads to positive goals. It enhances creativity and therefore flexibility in overcoming obstacles and resolving conflicts. By its very nature, comprehensively gives the opportunity to develop situational management with positive motivations, which, as the practice has shown, produces remarkable results. Among others, individuals and groups develop negotiation skills that are invaluable in the mediation process.

On the one hand, theorists in the field of mediation are promoting the use of NLP models in order to establish an effective communication as possible, and those who simply represent this approach through the idea of applying assertive behavior.

The key to establishing quality personal and social relationships are seen by many psychologists in assertive behavior.

By definition, assertiveness is, according to Lange and Jakuvowski, the expression of thoughts, feelings, and beliefs in a straightforward, honest and socially appropriate way while respecting others (Lange and Jakubowski, 1976).

It is expressing one’s own thoughts and beliefs without striving for domination, without wanting to bring other actors in the interpersonal interaction into a state of humiliation or degradation.

The concept of an assertive psychological state is described as respect for our self and others. Respect for others’ opinion and opinion does not necessarily mean full agreement with them, but understanding.

Assertiveness is also manifested in the form of self-protective behavior in the sense that a person seeks to preserve dignity in situations where he or she may be manipulated or exploited.

In practice, assertive behavior is manifested in an open approach without hesitation to present in a calm and steady way thoughts, desires and goals.

The practice has shown that the assertive way of behavior results in the easier achievement of the desired goals, such people respect themselves and are aware of the importance of the psychological energy they have. They have excellent self-control power to easily manage stressful situations, they do not hesitate to hide disagreement with someone else’s attitude or opinion, and they are flexible creatively and as such are able to accept innovative solutions. Often innovations offer themselves. They have more confidence in themselves and others are committed to resolving conflict situations. Mediators should possess the psychological skills inherent in the assertive personality type. An open and honest approach instills confidence in conflicting parties seeking to resolve the issue through mediation. Assertiveness is an important element in establishing a relationship of mutual trust between mediators – conflicting parties as well as initiating the same form of behavior with the parties in order to find a win-win solution and thus overcome the conflict.

Flexibility is another significant skill of assertive people and is important for mediation. Each conflict brings with it a specificity by which it differs from previous practice. The reason is a wide range of psychological profiles, different frames of reference. This diversity is the reason why there are no two identical cases in the mediation process.

In the context of the aforementioned NLP method, which is widespread in conflict resolution procedures, we emphasize the important fact that assertiveness is a prerequisite for neuro-linguistic programming.

An important element of the assertive psychological profile is the developed empathy, is understanding of one’s own and others’ emotions.

For a successful mediation process, it is essential that the mediator has the developed ability to define the parties to the conflict to identify the core of the problem, to identify the interests, and to have the skills to encourage the parties to the conflict to find the best solution through joint engagement.

Knowing that emotions, which are mostly negative in the initial stage of conflict resolution, play a significant role in the mediation process, mediator empathy and arresting behavior by applying NLP skills can easily transform the negative psychological states of the conflicting parties into positive and constructive ones leading to the achievement of win-win solutions. .

By identifying communication as an essential mechanism in establishing quality interpersonal human activities, inter alia, mediation, we emphasize the importance of recognizing the different profiles of communicators (parties) they encounter in mediation processes.

Passive communication style is characterized by avoiding the expression of feelings, desires and needs, as well as the absence of action and initiative. The goal of the mediator is to transform the passive communication style into the active one, as assertive as possible. In this way, introvert frustration is transformed into pleasure and desire to establish more effective interpersonal communication.

A passive communication style is characterized by the existence of a discrepancy between verbal and non-verbal communication. One of the skills that mediators need to have is understanding non-verbal communication.

The aggressive communication style is in some respects similar to the passive in that it is full of negative emotions and destruction due to frustration. Unlike the passive style, the aggressive characteristic of extroverted personality types openly represents their attitudes, beliefs and needs. Aggressiveness in communication is characterized by psychological profiles that are aware that there is a problem but a high degree of caution and stress due to the inability to solve the problem. The mere fact that the mediator has the skills to recognize communication styles, as well as the problems encountered by the parties, gives them the opportunity to calmly encourage the parties and transform the negative emotions into positive ones and thus bring the atmosphere into a state of peace necessary for finding a solution to the conflict.

Assertive communication is ideal in the mediation process. It is a combination of active and passive communication. The assertive form of communication is characterized by understanding, composure, and confidence.

Assertive communication is determined by a wide range of constructive elements such as extroversion, empathy, self-esteem, appreciation of one’s own and others’ views, flexibility and thinking that leads to innovative solutions.

A particular aspect of communication is non-verbal cues.

Neuro –  linguistic programming would not be possible without a good knowledge of verbal and non-verbal communication. Non-verbal or non-verbal and paralinguistic communication represents a wide range of non-verbal communication signs such as mimicry, body movements, color, pitch, pauses in sentence formation.

An interesting fact is that communication accounts for 7 percent of verbal, 38 percent of paralinguistic and even 55 percent of non-verbal communication.

The technique of decoding non-verbal signs of communication is a special skill that requires knowledge of body language as well as paralinguistic elements of verbal communication. It is a complex system of characters whose proper reading, decoding requires exercise and patience. Alan and Barbara Piz have done decades of research in the field of non-verbal communication and have come up with fascinating data in the way they understand non-verbal communication. One conclusion is that non-verbal communication is a form of universal language. It is important to point out that the use of the same sign in different cultures does not always carry the same meaning in non-verbal communication.

Unlike verbal communication, we can almost completely control non-verbal communication.

In passive communicators, there is a discrepancy between verbal and non-verbal language.

NLP as a widespread technique in the field of mediation would not be possible without a few key elements that we have placed special emphasis on. Assertiveness as the ability of an extrovert, dynamic and, above all, constructive interaction with other people is its significant element of empathy as well as knowledge of the secrets of verbal and non-verbal communication. These are aspects that are practically a prerequisite for the proper application of the NLP technique.



Comprehensive Mediation, Daniel Erdmann, Lulu Press, 2002-2018

Effective Communication –  Available Solution to Mediation, International Journal Academic Reasearch in Business an Social Sciences, 2014.

Body Language, Allan and Barbara Pease, 2009

Communications in Mediation, Joseph P Mc Mahon Jr., 2011.

Methodology and communication tools in peace mediation, Peace Mediation Germany, 2019



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4 Responses

  1. i have experienced difficulty in comprehending what is NLP. I regret that I do not believe the article adequately explains it and has not illustrated what its says are characteristics of the method. Tor instance what it means by “a communication model based on strategy (planning) and the remainder of the paragraph in which those words appear. For help i have looked at https://qiita.com/daisyrowley/items/f5734ef9d1ea8696a9d5
    I found interesting the statistics it refers to. Indeed, no doubt, Most mediators will have concluded that recognising non-verbal communications and taking it into account greatly contributes to the process of the mediation and achieving solutions.
    I would appreciate further guidance in understanding NLP and in adopting same as a further skill in the armory mediation necessary selects from to achieve outcome.
    Best to all,
    Victor Berger 16/2/2020

    1. Dear Victor,
      Thanks for the constructive comment.
      I agree with your opinion.
      One topic will be dedicated to non-verbal communication.
      It is a highly demanding skill. Non-verbal communication is difficult to manipulate. It is a more honest aspect of communication and gives answers that the verbal does not.
      Kristina Cukic

  2. Dear Kristina and Victor,

    I have for a long time found communication in regards to the subconscious and contextual parameters interesting. Yet, I always found studying NLP dull and not engaging for my personality type. I believe that is as I felt that I had to be engaged in the double system of talking to a person and applying NLP simultaneously in fact becoming overly cerebral – conscious of my thought – and divorced from the process of communicating.

    For me that amounted to the difference mentioned in Martin Buber’s work on the difference between I – it (as I felt I was engaging if thinking in terms of NLP) and I – Thou (being in the unitary field of having life talk through two or more people). This is my finding as applicable for myself. It is possible that for some people NLP is as learning to bicycle something that can cause stumbling at first and then becomes more of a natural process: Then it must become a highly effective tool.

    It is however worth mentioning that NPL is a try at synthesizing the work of the American Psychologist Milton Erickson by two of his prominent students (Bandler and Grinder) who broke what they thought he did up into language and body movement patterns. Not all of Erickson’s students did this and he did not do that at all himself. He was very known for being extremely present to his body after overcoming polio – his body presence then had a way of drawing others into the present moment. This presence is akin to utilizing the nervous system as somebody who can really feel himself or herself as an accomplished meditator or lets say a ballerina can perhaps do. Drawing other people into the moment.

    Erickson most likely also trusted himself very very well with people thus he was able to utilize his subconsciousness more freely in communication for various associations that could help people.
    Then he was re-framing personal and collective stores for positive change.

    The type of presence discussed here has a bearing on Non-violent communication the discipline of another American psychologist Marshall Rosenberg. His system seems quite cumbersome and I think it is best repeatedly and then “forgotten” as the lessons “stay in ones system”. Marshall would state if I paraphrase that you can analyse a person or a conversation before or after talking with someone but not while doing it – if you want to be perfectly engaged. At the moment of conversation you have to trust yourself. Otherwise you can become tense, manipulative (in a bad way) or ineffective in other ways.

    Similarly NLP should be a help and not a hindrance. For those who feel as myself – that NLP is overly detail orientated or doesn’t fully capture their attention. I recommend going straight to the source of Milton Erickson himself.

  3. Dear Kristina,
    Your article gives great insight into the need for an effective communication in mediation. As stated by you the mediator need to understand the issues of parties and he should be able to effectively convince them as to what is right. Passive and assertive methods are much required as to while dealing with an introvert as lot of people have communication issues and they remain silent.

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