The art of words during mediation

Posted by Christine Plews on
Saying the right thing and decorum will go a long way when it comes to dealing with traumatic or stressful situations.

Blake Morgan recently hosted a session to learn more about how to engage with people during challenging family situations, and how successful mediation can best be achieved. The key note speaker was Professor Elizabeth Stokoe, head of social interaction at Loughborough University. Elizabeth has studied the background of interviews from sales calls to hostage negotiation. What does this have to do with a law firm? Well Elizabeth's research has spanned those seeking mediation services and in particular in family situations.

The session opened our eyes. Research suggests that the words commonly used around the voluntary nature of mediation, its neutrality and the fact its non-binding, when openly spoken about, can be a disincentive to people agreeing to find out more about it. Almost having the opposite effect to what we, as family mediators, would wish!

What seems to encourage people to attend mediation is a more positive (in their view) message that progress might be made if they were willing to attend. Those interested in mediating situations are actually more interested in understanding what the lawyer will do to move things forward and there is a want for the situation to be 'taken control of'. We also discovered that even if, at that stage, they thought the other person wouldn't be reciprocal to mediation, many are willing to cooperate.

Blake Morgan understand that often, for many, mediation is a last resort after two parties are unable to compromise. You therefore want the reassurance of a lawyer that they will make progress for you, so you can get on with your life. This session reinforced this to us.

Around 30 other family law professionals in Oxford attended the event with Elizabeth Stokoe, which focussed on how we deal with our mediation clients and the information that we give to them which explains the service. We were privileged to be handed such great advice, and recognise that any small changes in the way in which we deal with mediation enquiries to make our clients feel that it would be worth trying, must be a good thing if it encourages people to take the first step.

Blake Morgan's family mediators help clients based in London, Reading, Oxford, Southampton and Portsmouth.  Please contact us for more information. 

About the Author

Photograph of Christine Plews

Christine leads the Family Law Practice Group and specialises in matters arising out of divorce and separation, including cohabitee disputes. She is an experienced mediator.

Christine Plews
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01865 254213

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