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Active listening in Mediation

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The object of active listening in conflict resolution is to acquire and demonstrate understanding of the other, which will serve as a basis for reaching joint decisions and resulting in resolving a conflict. In order to succeed in this, active listening has to focus on common problems in oral interpersonal communication. This presentation mentions the few ways in which active listening can be practiced and deal with communication pitfalls during mediation.

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Active listening in Mediation

  1. 1. Active Listening in Mediation
  2. 2. Before mediators can effectively help the parties resolve their disputes, mediators themselves must first understand and recognize the different needs and interests of the disputing parties, which requires actively listening to the parties. However, active listening – arguably the purest form of listening – is not an easy skill to acquire and apply in practice.
  3. 3. Practice Active Listening
  4. 4. Tip #1: Maintain eye contact  Look at the speaker.  Keep the other persons in view so you can observe their reactions, but generally maintain eye contact with the speaker.
  5. 5. Tip #2: Think only about what the person is saying.  Resist the urge to begin formulating your reply or your position on the issue.  Show that you're interested in what he/she is saying. Encourage by unobtrusive use of "yes," "I see," "um hum." Use positive body cues at appropriate points -- nods, smiles etc.
  6. 6. Tip #3: Take notes  Take notes that summarize their thoughts and can be used later to reflect on their concerns.  This attention to detail also shows your sincere interest in what they are saying.
  7. 7. Tip #4: Pay attention to body language  Pay attention to the disputants body language, including any significant aspects in your notes.  Observe HOW things are said -- the emotions and attitudes behind the words may be more important than what is actually said.  Look beyond the mere words the speaker uses -- remember that much information is displayed in voice intonation and body language.
  8. 8. Tip #5: Ask questions  Show that you're listening and interested by asking Questions and Feeding Back, Reframing and Summarizing. However, particularly in early stages, be careful not to interrupt the speaker's flow.  Ask reflective questions to let the person know you are listening and that you understand their position.  Repeat in your own words what you have heard to ensure that you have understood it and to let the party know you understood it correctly.  Ask probing questions about any aspect that is not entirely clear to you. Draw the speaker out. Say something like, "I'd like to hear a little more about [subject]."
  9. 9. Thank You References: The Art of Negotiation and Mediation – A wishbone, funny bone and a bacbone, Anuroop Omkar & Kritika Krishnamurthy https://www.va.gov/ADR/ALM.asp

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