Focusing on finding solutions and success stories has a transformational effect on the language the mediator is utilizing. Questions will have positive connotations, and conversations incorporate constructive suppositions, hence the term Presuppositional Language.
O’Hanlon and Weiner-Davis provide a recommendation for such a language: “Instead of, ‘Did you ever do anything that worked?’ ask, ‘What have you done in the past that worked?’ … The latter [question] suggests that inevitably there have been successful past solutions” (O’Hanlon & Weiner-Davis, 2003, p. 80).
The mediator truly believes that parties will be able to achieve success on their own; therefore, the presuppositional language is genuine and honest.
While the parties are learning and moving, it is critical to frequently highlight the preferred future they are aiming at and the changes they are envisioning.
By asking targeted questions, the mediator invites the parties to visualize, imagine, and define the changes that will happen if they change, and by doing so, they reaffirm what they want, reinforcing their will to move forward and forging the change as their own.
Ask questions and listen carefully. Trust people to come up with answers. Do not be satisfied with the first answer; it’s always worth probing further. Simply ask: “what else?” Push their imaginations ever so gently.
PorroVia’s proprietary Mediation process designed specifically for complex disputes and high-conflict situations