How to Deal with Emotions in Mediation

Mediation can be a very emotional process for some people, especially if it involves divorce or personal family matters. Successful mediation cannot take place with regulating emotions. However, it is not always possible to control your emotions and mediators understand that. We provide some tips below to help mediator’s deal with their client’s emotions in the mediation process to get the best results.

Tip #1: Think Ahead

If you know your case is headed to mediation, you should begin thinking about the emotional climate of your case. If it is divorce mediation, be prepared to see your clients have a difficult time with the case. Think about the emotional climate of the case and talk to your client or the other parties involved. The key here is staying ahead of their emotions to better regulate them.

Tip #2: Establish Safety and Trust

For certain types of mediation, it is nearly impossible to stay from safety and trust issues. If possible, give thought to what the other party and lawyers may need to establish your client’s safety and trust. It is best if this is done in the pre-mediation stages.

Tip #3: Be Emotional when Appropraite

There are times during mediation when showing emotions can be appropriate. Many attorneys and mediators are afraid to “go there,” but this is not always the correct approach to take. There are a lot of mediators who say that their experience has helped them realize that allowing clients to talk about the feelings underlying the conflict can be very helpful. For mediators, perhaps knowing the root cause of a problem can help them better mediate. However, it is important to normalize and regulate the emotions a client feels during mediation. If you need a moment to regulate your emotions during mediation, let your attorney or mediator know.

Tip #4: Recognize Emotional Blocks

There are also times when parties may not be willing to move forward with the mediation process until there are some emotions that have put out there. This is what we mean by an emotional block. The parties may indirectly flag emotional issues for you, but you must learn to recognize these emotional blocks as a mediator. After recognizing the block, a successful mediator must be able to facilitate constructive emotional expression.

Tip #5: Recognize Feelings vs. Inappropriate Behavior

There are times in mediation when the process can get too heated and clients may start displaying irrational behavior. As a mediator, you must recognize the difference between feelings (strong emotions) and inappropriate behavior. Advising clients of the difference between these two beforehand is a wise move.

Tip #6: Stay with the Heat

If there is a time when one client bursts into their emotions and starts talking, do not cut them off unless they display inappropriate behavior. Let them talk and speak their mind. Put on your listening hat and be ready to catch anything that may help you in the mediation process. After they have spoken, reflect on what they said and how you can use that information to better mediate.

Tip #7: Promote Emotional Literacy

As a mediator, you should inform your clients that acknowledging their feelings and speaking to the other party about their feelings can help move the mediation process forward. However, it is also important to help them realize that the process is concerned mediation and not providing therapeutic support.

Tip #8: Give Options

If you know the mediation involves a private matter, give the parties and attorneys some options. Ask the clients if they would feel better and more comfortable discussing the issues alone with the mediator than in a joint session. If the client says yes, ask the attorney if he/she is okay with the client meeting alone with the mediator.

Tip #9: Regulate your Emotion

As a mediator, you are still a person who can get caught up in your own emotions. You need to be aware of your internal response to a situation and not judge or take sides during the process

We hope that the tips provided above help mediators, clients, and their attorneys have a more successful mediation process. Since there are many responsibilities a mediator is faced with during the process, we understand that it can be difficult to remember all these tips. The key here is allowing clients to express their feelings, but regulating them in a way that does not impede the mediation process.

Source referenced: Mediate.com

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About rauschmediation

Rausch Mediation & Arbitration Services
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