Guidelines for Effective Communication in Mediation

I developed these guidelines for one particularly difficult pair of mediation clients. However, in experimenting with its use with other clients, it seemed to speak to most people in some way. After introducing the concepts, I would leave the list on the mediation table. Often one spouse would point out one of the bullet items to the other in the course of the mediation and it helped to be an “anchor” to good process. The succinctness of the bullet items is a reduction to a simplicity that people remember.

  • Do not interrupt the other person speaking.
  • Do not characterize the feelings or the actions of the other person.
  • Do not assume you know the other person’s motives for a given act; ask.
  • Listen carefully to the other person; do not run, emotionally or physically.
  • State your own feelings and thoughts as your own.
  • Try not to let past history control your understanding of the now.
  • Ask for time out if you are feeling overwhelmed or on stimuli overload.
  • Always set a time to talk again.
  • Create a new history.

On both sides more respect.
–William Shakespeare

This article appeared in the Family Mediation Quarterly 2004