Civil Negotiation and Mediation Blog

Mediation Skill: Effective Communication

Posted by Nancy Hudgins on Thu, Mar 22, 2012


mediation result of effective communicationReaders of this blog know that I’m a big fan of Stuart Diamond's, professor of negotiation at the Wharton School.  In his book, Getting More, Diamond lays out 14 basic components of effective communication.

These can be effective negotiation strategies and mediation skills regardless of whether you’re a lawyer representing a client or a party to a divorce or other dispute.

Here they are:

  1. Always communicate.
  2. Listen and ask questions.  (Really listen, and try not to interrupt!)
  3. Value, don’t blame, the other party.  (A little respect goes a long way.)
  4. Summarize often (to make sure you understand).
  5. Use role reversal.  (Practice by taking the other party’s point of view in a dry run with a friend).
  6. Be dispassionate.  (This takes work!)
  7. Articulate your goals.
  8. Be firm, without damaging the relationship.
  9. Look for small signals (of openings or potential agreements).
  10. Discuss perceptual differences.  (“The single biggest cause of communication failure is misperception.”)
  11. Find out how the other side makes commitments (and use this intelligence to your advantage).
  12. Consult before deciding (when there are people who will be affected by the decision).
  13. Focus on what you can control.  (How true is this?!)
  14. Avoid debating who is right.  (You actually know this is a waste of time—but it’s so seductive. Resist!)

Try it.  Then, if you have the time, stop back by and let me know your results.