In October of 2013 I attended great seminar by Richard Barnes, put on by the Texas Mediator Credentialing Association. Here is a short summary of what I learned.
UCLA Professor Emeritus, Albert Mehrabian, a communications expert, found that we get most of our clues of the emotional intent behind a person’s words from non-verbal sources: 38% from tone of voice and 55% from body language, and only 7% from the words. When the two are in conflict, we believe the non-verbal every time. Given the emotionality of family law cases and mediations we can quickly see the importance of the tone of voice and body language of a mediator and a lawyer advocate. Parties will not always remember our words, but will always remember how we made them feel.
Barriers to listening and thus opportunities for miscommunication are the following:
- Hidden Agenda
- Desire to interrupt
- Past History
- I am right, you are wrong attitude
Our communication skills need to affirm fundamental personal needs-validation, achievement, inclusion, approval, self-esteem, control and security. Mediators should not talk down to people or use a negative or know-it-all tone of voice, but rather listen, acknowledge, affirm and then ask open ended questions.
Words of Wisdom: Politicians & Diapers need to be changed often—for the same reason.
Happy New Year Everyone