Whenever a dispute arises sometimes it is often the case that something important is lost in the clamour and the positions which the parties adopt.
One of the most powerful human emotional needs is the need to be heard and understood. If we think that someone is listening to us then we believe that not only is our point of view and feelings being acknowledged, but that we have a worthy contribution to make to the discussion. We feel recognised and legitimate. Sometimes when you feel you are being listened to can be the difference between feeling accepted and feeling isolated.
When we feel that we are being listened to and that our words come back with clarification or understanding then we feels reassured and this will automatically improve the relationship, however strained, and a sense of connection is imperceptibly formed. When you demonstrate a willingness to listen and avoid common reactions such as defensiveness, criticism, or impatience you are very probably improving the chances of having it reciprocated.
In speaking about their own individual experiences both the speaker and the receptive listener are instinctively better able to identify the needs and interests at the heart of the dispute and this may very well form the basis for a solution to it .
The opposite is also true. For most people listening is so basic that it is taken for granted. It can be extremely hurtful not to be listened to and this is exacerbated when the relationship was formerly very close or if it occurs in people that you have often counted on for understanding.
The benefit of mediation is that at the very outset the mediator will give both parties a timeframe in which to individually speak and outline their positions and experiences uninterrupted by the other party. The mediator may interject, at intervals, to clarify the points being made by the speaker to reinforce understanding and reassure the speaker that what they are saying is being heard.
Because of the flexibility and informality the process allows the parties sometimes feel more comfortable reading from a prepared statement and sometimes these can be exchanged by the parties before the Joint mediation session. The Mediator then outlines and clarifies the positions at the joint mediation session. When both parties have been given their allotted time to have their say the parties are given the opportunity to discuss all the issues raised. It is often the case that in the mediation session one or both of the parties are hearing something for the first time, or did not realise the impact of what they were doing or saying was having on the other party.
The difference in being heard in mediation and going to court is striking. In legal cases you speak only through your solicitor. You are only allowed to speak in Court in the witness box and are guided there by the rules of evidence. Other people speak for you. The outcomes may not suit your particular needs and the legal costs will be substantial. If you lose you have a good chance of paying the other person’s legal fees as well as your own.
The mediation process provides a timely, relatively inexpensive process. It is informal and flexible. You get to speak for yourself and make sure you get your point across. You are free to explore and implement solutions to your dispute which suit your own particular circumstances and most importantly ensues the all-important need to be HEARD.