While in defensive mode, although the gates are closed to inputs, they will be relatively open to outputs. In other words, an individual in conflict might well be very cautious in receiving incoming communications and accepting other viewpoints; however, they will be more open to output, talking about their beliefs, wants, and ideas, presenting their point of view and defending their position against incoming threats of change. Therefore, asking effective questions will be amongst the mediator’s most important skills.
Utilizing this fact, the mediator asks well-designed, open-ended questions, inviting individuals to explain what they want to see or achieve, delicately leading them to disclose what they need: their desired outcome, their preferred future, their equilibrium.
“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”
The ultimate goal is to identify and clearly picture the preferred future and the equilibrium they want to achieve because, as we discussed earlier, this is exactly what drives them and motivates them to seek and secure.
However, encountering the first questions asked by the mediator to talk about what they want, the individual might not know what their preferred future is in a well-articulated and well-defined way, but they definitely know there is a problem in their lives that has caused them discomfort. Therefore, their natural inclination will be to talk about their problem (i.e., conflict) and the things they want to get away from, not the things they want to replace it with, and certainly not the future they want to reach.
The questions need to be designed with absolute care and asked delicately because opening up a closed gate might release all sorts of negative emotions, that when spoken and communicated, might exacerbate the other party’s perceived conflicts.
PorroVia’s proprietary Mediation process designed specifically for complex disputes and high-conflict situations