Understanding and altering the other person’s understanding of a situation might be the two most challenging components of successful mediation. Understanding doesn’t only mean the mapping of facts and perspectives, but it also means the familiarity with the personality, maybe personal history and impulses of the parties. This takes time and a special kind of attention. The result of the unique personal history with positive and negative experiences of the parties might be an irrational fear of certain outcomes, overreaction, and oversensitivity to certain expressions or the opposite, nonchalant, apathetic, or thick-skinned. These may appear in the form of getting quieter, seemingly shy and careful or rather arrogant, aggressive, or sarcastic. We need to recognize the signs of scars and coping mechanisms to avoid the disturbance of the mediation process by them. These can sometimes be detected easily when someone gets frustrated immediately as the other party says or does something, but most of the time it requires repetition to notice and maybe even more repetition to understand and handle these patterns. Handling them doesn’t always mean avoiding them. There are certain circumstances where shading light on suppressed emotions is exactly the key to a break-through and of course there are complicated situations where the mediator needs to be creative and use what he can to reconnect the two parties meanwhile he is making them more accepting of each other. I performed the task of creating a rapport then finalizing and then consciously activating it again. I felt uncomfortable but it was very educational to maneuver the conversation in such way. At the beginning of the most successful attempt creating the rapport was smooth (I had to adjust the volume of my verbal communication and the physical proximity was eventually adjusted by my partner) and finalizing it was also easy but reviving it was complicated as the negotiation had to go on after the other party didn’t feel like continuing, but a change of tone and physical proximity was convincing enough to make them help reactivate the original rapport. Numerous communication patterns can be mirrored. Some examples: repetition of words, use of certain figures of speech, unusual intonations repeatedly, long pauses but also the movement of hands, eye roles during the mention of specific things, or making certain faces. But it can also be overly mannered speech or using a certain accent as an expression of a feeling or mockery. Such a leading process takes place for instance when someone is rolling their eye to the same thing as their partner hence making them feel they think alike (they find the same thing to be nonsense), this way they are encouraging their behavior. Another example is when someone is lowering their voice hence their partner is also lowering their voice which is a very peaceful way of getting someone to calm down. I often use this leading method when I find someone being too loud because they are loo excited or furious. Making them concentrate on controlling their volume of speech is an indirect but mostly very effective way of taming their emotions and controlling the situation. The next task, namely to paraphrase the message of the partner in conversation was easy for me for one single reason. I have been using that technique in situations where I sense any level of manipulation for a long time. It is easy to say “I’m not manipulating, you are just imaging it” when someone is confronted during the act, but it’s much harder to deny it when their message is repeated to them, especially if the neutralization takes away their real intention hence they need to add something or correct the sentence to get what they want. It has been very effective in my experience even if it’s a little passive-aggressive and neutralizing a statement can easily be mastered this way. (it also provides peace of mind to those that are overly sensitive to manipulation) I’m aware that mediation should never be passive aggressive but the mechanism of the two situations is still the same in my opinion. Reframing is where an optimist person can truly shine. In situations of distress (such as the pandemic going on in the world these days) reframing can be a lifesaver. I have to use this technique almost every day these days when I talk to desperate loved ones. I honestly believe in the saying: “It all depends on the perspective”. One of the most outstanding experience I had in connection with this phenomenon when I was a child and someone close to me hit an animal by car which died in their arms a few minutes later and in their feeling of guilt and devastation I told them, that the animal is now held by one of their loved ones who has already passed away and all of a sudden the person close to me slowly stopped crying and felt a certain level of comfort from my words. That was also one of those moments that showed me how powerful words can be.
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thank you for this feedback.
It is good to hear that you already made use of such or / and similar techniques.
Yes, the perspective is key to an enormous field of transformation. People also tell me that I always find something positive in a situation. And it is funny to see that people often would like to maintain the status of an emotional down.