An important conflict resolution skill and mediation technique
is knowing how to select language that will de-escalate a conflict.
Seasoned mediators recognize that some words and phrases work
well in a mediation, while others just make matters worse.
An often overlooked part of mediator training is the use of
language as a conflict resolution skill. The use of effective
language is so important that we introduce it early in our mediation
training. Words which inflame, imply a bias, or offend are best
avoided. On the other hand, certain phrases tend to have a positive
effect. For instance, framing an unresolved issue as "something
to be worked on" is more effective than characterizing
it as a "dispute."
One of the mediation techniques we teach in our mediation training
is how to structure a question in such a way that the most favorable
answer is a "yes," not a "no." We suggest
that mediators ask, "Will that work for you?" not
"Do you have a problem with that?" because ultimately
"yes" answers bring the parties closer to settlement.
Although some mediators introduce many of their own opinions
into a mediation, we think the better practice is to avoid judgmental
language. Words like "impasse," "custody,"
and "concession" all carry negative connotations that
impede progress in a mediation. Knowing how to select neutral
language is a conflict resolution skill that is worth perfecting,
because a mediator's choice of words can significantly impact
the success of a mediation.
Becoming aware of words and phrases that are inappropriate
in a mediation is the first step. Eliminating that language
and substituting more effective language is a conflict resolution
skill which improves with practice. The Coast To Coast mediation
training provides you with many role plays in which you can
practice using language that will help lead to a settlement.