There are well-known strategies used in mediations to solve a conflict and to end a dispute.
Asking questions is one of those strategies and it helps to solve a conflict. The beauty of this strategy is that you have control of these questions and the outcome you are after. Just ask what do you want to know in a positive manner. You might be surprised with the answer because you assumed something completely opposite.
While in a dispute both parties tend to avoid the issue and the other side. Also, they blame one another and so as a result they give instructions, orders and commands.
Asking questions works far better than telling someone to do something. There is a bit of magic in this technique because the question of future behaviours/actions creates an immediate picture in one’s mind giving a sense of control and freedom to the respondent. A respondent is more likely to change behaviours/actions without feeling the pressure.
“Will you please give me a chance to explain the issue fully?”
“Will you please work with me to find suitable options for both of us?”
The next very useful question is “How can you solve this?” Instead of asking “can you solve this?” which creates demand and pressure on the other person.
That open question “How can…?” is an invitation to explore options. It leads to creative thinking, seeks ideas, influences an open-minded approach and shows that you are trying hard to find the solution.
Above all, such attitude removes the other person’s tension to give a final answer or to limit answers to “yes or no”.
Another powerful open question is “What would change for you if you solved the issue today?” Each question opens your imagination to more options, taps your needs and changes your emotions regarding the issue. It is like spelling out your wishes you need to hear them in order to understand them. In other words,…” I wish…”
All those questions are helping to create the momentum to move forward and to break Hamster Wheel Debates according to Tammy Lensky.
You might ask: “Is it a mediator job to ask those questions?” Yes, it is, you are absolutely right! A mediator will help both parties to explore options to end a conflict. Although, before a mediator comes to the scene those questions will help both sides to prepare themselves for the mediation process to end a conflict.
At last, if you have an unsolved dispute, please start to ask yourself those questions today. In case of any doubts, please request a call back from MA’s mediator.