We all have the opportunity to be mediators at various times in our lives. Two family members are arguing and cannot come to a resolution about the issue in dispute. We intervene and lend a helping hand. Perhaps an objective third part can offer some insights or suggestions that have alluded both parties.
Where there is dissension there is discord which can easily lead to anger, aggression, and broken relationships . Our role is to help restore harmony between both parties so that they may find a peaceful resolution to the issue and maintain the integrity of their relationship.
How does one accomplish this without formal training as a mediator? Here are a few key points to remember:
1. Your role is not to find a solution to the issue but rather to be the peacekeeper, the voice of reason, to keep the tone of the conversation respectful and productive. Proverbs 20:203 “Only fools love to quarrel.” Gently, but firmly, remind both sides to remain calm and polite at all times.
2. Encourage both sides to validate the other person’s position. They need not agree with it but simply acknowledge that they heard what was said, realize it’s importance to the other party, and will consider it in the process of finding a solution. This helps to alleviate any fear or concerns from both sides that could potentially lead to a breakdown of communication.
3. Model heart centered listening. That is, encourage both sides to be compassionate and thoughtful towards one another. Listen to understand, not simply with the intent to reply.
4. Resist the urge to shut the other person down when they are speaking. Refrain from
criticizing their ideas, feelings, or need. Practice being empathetic and sensitive towards one another. Psalm 141:3: “Help me to guard my words whenever I say something.”
5. Challenge both sides on any inaccurate facts. Skewed knowledge can lead to heated arguments. Reference accurate resources for truthful information. Suggest both sides re evaluate their perceptions as well for any flaws. Request that both try to see things from the other’s point of view as well.
6. Suggest either one apologize when necessary for any thoughtless or hurtful comments or gestures they have made. A timely apology can squelch a rise in anger and immediately restore harmony to the discussion.
7. Suggest that both sides find a way to compromise. Being certain that both parties receive some of what they are seeking allows for a mutually satisfactory end result.
It’s not difficult to help parties reach a reasonable solution to any dispute. The key is to keep the discussion peaceful and respectful at all times. In this way, both sides can be more comfortable and relaxed in voicing their opinions and concerns and ultimately, hopefully, reach an agreeable resolution.
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