20th October, 2023

Me against You? Or Us against the Problem?

There’s this magical moment in some family mediations when the people in conflict stop battling each other and join forces to thwart the real enemy – the problem.

There’s a palpable energy shift when it happens and it is wonderful to witness.
It’s like the sea-breeze at the end of a scorching hot day.

A good mediator knows how to ride that moment and keep people in that space. A great mediator also knows how to lead them there.

At Keogh Mediation there are lots of techniques I use to steer people towards this glorious moment. These are a few of my favourites.

Shifting the focus

When I want someone to focus on the problem, not the person, I help them by changing the visuals. I take their eyes to a virtual whiteboard. I use diagrams and pictures to give the problem physical form. I help them see that the problem is separate from them.

Leading with Language

I choose my words very carefully during a mediation, because words have so much subtle influence. I lay the foundations for a co-operative problem-solving approach by using co-operative problem-solving language. I use “we” a lot. I “invite” people to consider possibilities. And I “share” ideas and proposals.

Giving feelings the right amount of space

The feelings that are typical during separation – sadness, anger, guilt, fear – can make it very hard to see a co-parent or former partner as a team-mate. But trying not to feel something is a big ask (and often unhelpful). One of the keys to creating a co-operative discussion space is getting the balance right with emotion. Giving feelings enough room to breathe but making sure they don’t use up all the oxygen.

If you would like to turn your conflict into a problem to be solved reach out to Liz at Keogh Mediation.