Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Mediator Encourages Empathetic Listening

At the JAMS blog, Joan Kessler advises mediation lawyers and the parties to engage in empathetic listening:

As a mediator and arbitrator for the last 10 years, I’ve seen my share of communication disconnects, especially in emotionally charged disputes. As someone with a Ph.D. in communications, I understand that the root of these problems is often ineffective listening.

To avoid breakdowns in communication that can derail settlements, I strongly encourage lawyers and parties participating in a mediation to practice “empathetic listening.” This involves paraphrasing the message that you believe the other person is trying to send. The idea behind it is to focus on the meaning of what is said, and not hear the words. If done right, it allows the listener and sender of the message to feel they have had an effective dialogue and that they understand each other. In my experience, empathetic listening by parties and counsel can help bring a dispute to a successful resolution.

The practice of empathetic listening can benefit the rest of us as well. You can read more here.


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