A Good Mediation Question/Martin Rosenfeld

Posted on January 14, 2013

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Dr. Kenneth Cloke, JD, has a recent article at mediate.com about 25 questions that are suitable for a conference on Pre-Nuptial Agreements. I will focus on one question that the author asserts is crucial for pre-marital and post-marital discussions. That question would be: “What is the one thing the other party can do or say to help you communicate effectively in the light of a disagreement?”  I would add a complementary question as well:”What can you do or say to help the other party communicate better when there is a disagreement?”

“Know thyself” has been a good piece of advice for thousands of years. I therefore prefer the latter question, above,  concerning what one can do or say to improve communications with the other party. Some of us become silent during moments of confrontation. Some become quite animated. Some pout and some become combative. Once a party recognizes this, and once they buy into the truism that more conversation is usually better than less communication, deadlocked discussions can often be resolved.

I once argued a case involving a possible change to State laws, before the CT Supreme Court. The Chief Justice could not fully understand the point I was raising. She exhorted me “Please help me understand, Mr. Rosenfeld”. Consider deadlocked situations as an opportunity to help the other party understand your point of view. Use good listening skills to help them get you to understand their point of view. From a position of respect and civil discussion, much will become possible.

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