When in Conflict Tell the Other Person’s Story

A core principle that makes mediation work is when a skilled mediator can and does listen to the story from both parties and is able to hold both stories out there without quickly evaluating one or other. In many cases, getting each party to hear the other’s story and then, even better, verbalize it, changes the outlook on the conflict. Now each party has, in a way, stepped outside themselves and has become the problem solver.

Disputing parties that are stuck are typically unable to tell each other’s stories. Instead, while in the heat of the battle, they ignore, misunderstand, distort or otherwise fail to truly hear the other side’s point of view. This ability to mentally “hold” both stories together, without either trumping the other, is the mediator’s unique contribution to conflict resolution.

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