Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mediators Beyond Borders - skills mini workshop

I recently attended an EXCELLENT mediation skill-building mini-workshop hosted by the Oregon State University Chapter of Mediators Beyond Borders. I've been meaning...FOR YEARS!....to join this group. This skills workshop was the catalyst for me, just the prod I needed. My notes from the workshop are below.


Mediators Beyond Borders, Twitter and online

Oregon State University’s MediatorsBB chapter blog and Facebook page

Aaron Wolf, presenter

What topic fires you up, gets you riled? Nothing that is personally injurious...just something that you get animated about.

Speaker argues against the listener’s position (2min)

Listener listens. That’s it. And keeps track of his/her emotions and reactions.

Then reverse the sequence (speaker listens, listener speaks, attentiveness, etc.)

Listeners, what did you notice about just listening to something that fires you up?

1st level of reaction (typically): First reactions are typically physical: stress, anxiety, fight-or-flight.

Powerful stuff.

2nd level: repression of emotions. Emotional response. Starts around the stomach area.

3rd level: intellectual curiosity. Has a place in your body, too. Where? Usually the back of the head (often associated with the basal ganglia/lower brain function systems).

Jeremiah’s side note: Amygdala, cerebellum, etc. Think “lizard brain”. Reminded of Seth Godin’s stuff on this...

4th level (sometimes): spiritual connections with the person. Opportunity to learn something.

Anger is a shield protecting vulnerability.

If we can move ourselves past these first 2-3 levels (physical/emotional), train ourselves to go to the “What can I learn from this experience?” place (think of it as an opportunity), we’ll often have much more productive conversations/discussions/negotiations.

When you feel agitated, stop, breathe. And listen.

When someone comes at you with anger, they are often masking vulnerability. What’s the first response, typically? Meet it with anger. But if you meet it with empathy, anger has no fuel.

What do these four levels of responses sound like? Do they sound familiar? Yep. Four needs are Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Buddhism’s 4 foundations of mindfulness (Satipatthana), some of the tenets of Christianity and other world religions, etc., etc., etc. They are universal...

Anger first comes up (typically) when people take position (for/against). People take a position because they have an interest. Under interests are values. If you can lead with shared values, you’ll often find some common ground, unity.

Position -> Interests -> Needs/Values -> Unity

If you can lead a conversation with shared values, the conversation will be much more productive.

Take home message:

In any discussion, but especially discussions that have the potential to rile one party or the other, it is most productive to STOP, BREATHE, AND LISTEN. That will allow you to make a personal connection with the “other side”, find a common ground upon which to build.