Peaceful Coping /Martin Rosenfeld, JD

Posted on November 28, 2020

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In the November 25, 2020 WSJ, Elizabeth Bernstein provided, in her article about politics and polarization, communication tips from William Doherty. How does one talk to someone whose views differ from their own? This article preceded Thanksgiving, and clearly there was an assumption that Holidays bring people together (at least on Zoom), this leads to discussions, and the latter can lead to noisy disagreements. Mr. Doherty’s tips come from his experience as a family therapist. The suggestions happen to apply equally to parties who need mediation due to their differing views on issues that confront them. The tips encompass the following:

  • Accept responsibility for the disagreement. Both sides have contributed to the “problem” and they need to recognize this reality.
  • You cannot plan to change the other party, you can only change yourself.
  • Talk less and listen more in order to understand the other party.
  • Try the LAPP method : Listen to understand./Acknowledge what you heard./Pivot by “asking” if you can present your own views./If the other party is open to this, Present your own views.
  • Use “I” statements such as “This is how I view it” rather than condemn the other party for how “they” see the matter.
  • Do not use polarizing language that e.g. refers to the other party being “bigoted” “uninformed”, etc.

In many ways the advice above can be boiled down to this: “Treat the other party as you would like to be treated. And, of course, mediate don’t litigate.