Mediator Leadership: How to Manage Difficult Conversations in Mediation

How to prevent a destructive exchange between the opposing parties from breaking out and escalating? Many people wonder what we do. mediators if things get complicated during a session and anger takes over the participants. In this article I am going to try to explain how to manage difficult conversations in mediation.

Mediator position

The neutrality of the mediator lies in not positioning oneself in favor of any of the parties and remaining firm in supporting these people towards the autonomous construction of their agreements. The keys to maintaining said “impartial course” They are a very interesting topic that I will discuss in another article. Now I am going to try to explain to you how we can intervene in the face of an explosion of anger in a mediation session from the mediating leadership that characterizes our practice. 

As mediators, we exercise a helping leadership people in dispute to communicate what they want in a new, constructive way and, above all, that the other party can understand well and want to consider.

como gestionar conversaciones dificiles en mediacion

This is something that our mediators must be clear about and feel from the beginning. We will explain to them that we are not going to judge them at any time and that our mission is, precisely, to do what they find difficult: separate the person from the problem. In addition to explaining this, we will demonstrate it to you through the exercise of a quality active listening. 

That said, there are two things that will come in handy to appease the natural tendency of the opposing parties to compete and fight Regarding the matter in question that has led them to mediation: 

Securities agreement

First of all, have made a Securities Agreements which, Basically, it consists of clearly agreeing on what you are going to do. give greater value during the mediated negotiation, whether it is the well-being of the children, the relationship, the health of the parents or, for example, the good relationship between co-workers or partners.

When, at the beginning of mediation processIf you ask this question to the opposing parties, none of them will ever answer, “Look, I actually came to mediation just to look good and I'm not going to do anything on my part to reach any agreement.” What usually happens is that, with more or less determination, the person expresses their intention to reach consensual agreements through a respectful dialogue.

Well, this is something that we mediators will keep as wildcard on our sleeve to remind them if they get lost and forget for a moment the importance of trying to stay calm.

liderazgo mediador conversaciones

Furthermore, in the Securities Agreements, you can decide, together with the participants, to give priority to the more inclusive and integrative solutions, which will greatly help to promote reflection on the most controversial topics. 

To seal this commitment to privilege the most inclusive proposals in accordance with what both parties have decided to value most, it is good to prepare a written document.

It has to be something brief, where we will list the reasons why it is worth trying to reach an agreement consensual and which, later, in moments of tension or fatigue, will constitute a valuable instrument of help.

Normally, as I say, there is usually no problem in agreeing on this and preparing the short writing, but it can always help us to make it clear to the participants that we are not asking them, at that initial point, to give up any of their ideas, but rather we are laying the foundations to arrive at other ideas that are better than those used so far.

It's about a first step to move them away from defensive postures and towards a more collaborative perspective.

Translations of reproaches in petitions

Secondly, having previously worked, in caucus, the Translations of reproaches in petitions, will also help us a lot to avoid destructive exchanges between the opposing parties. As mediators, we will make these translations through questions and reformulations being able to use the Motivational Attractors to guide our intervention.

If, nevertheless, the spark jumps and anger arises, we can do the following things to manage the situation and prevent the conflict from escalating: 

  1. Keep calm. By maintaining a calm tone of voice and speaking slowly, we will be inviting our interlocutor to do the same and helping them, at the same time, to calm down. Doing so will be more effective than directly asking the person to calm down, because being in a state of “emotional kidnapping,” the person will not be able to do so immediately, they will feel even more frustrated and their anger will not subside. Showing them that we understand how they feel and asking thought-provoking questions will help them gain perspective and calm down. 
  2. Pause and caucus. People usually need between 15 and 20 minutes to recover from a strong peak of stress. Allowing at least that amount of time to pass before resuming the conversation will help get the mediated dialogue back on track. 
  3. Relaxation. It is effective to invite the person to do a brief breathing exercise. The simple act of adopting a comfortable position, closing your eyes and breathing slowly for just 3 minutes helps regulate your heart rate and clear your mind. This is something very effective and comes in handy at a time of tension. 
  4. Sorry. The power of an apology is enormous. If it does not come naturally, it can be tremendously useful to take advantage of the caucus to help the person reflect on the possibility of doing so and understand that asking for forgiveness does not mean giving up one's own interests.

Once the situation is restored, we will resume the mediating dialogue appealing to the shared values by the participants and recognizing the effort they are making in striving to work together to create consensual agreements. 

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