Thinking Like a Mediator for Your Difficult Conversation

How you think will affect how you feel which will affect what you say in your difficult conversation – this is a fact. So your first goal is to untangle your thinking and get your mindset in the right place. There are three essential changes you need to make to the hard wiring of your brain.

Attitude and Skill are Symbiotic

It’s a bit like walking into an important exam that you’ve spent weeks revising for. You know the content inside out and could talk all day long to your friends about it. But when you walk into that exam room and see all the desks lined up you freak out. The unfamiliar environment becomes hostile, your heart rate picks up and so do your anxiety levels. Then this little voice in your head kicks in and plants seeds of doubt in your capacity to blitz the exam.

Walking into a difficult conversation can have similar effects; you can prepare what you want to say and go over a hundred times but when you walk into that room and see the other person, something inside takes over.

It is normal and natural if you’re about to have a difficult conversation to have morbid fantasies about what you’d like to say and do to the other person. This feature rarely goes away despite how experienced and practiced you are at this. It is also normal to think the other person is in the wrong, has behaved abhorrently, and it’s your job to set the straight.

It’s also normal for you to suspect that their actions are part of an elaborate campaign to get at you or that there’s some element of self interest in hidden in amongst their motives. We make judgements about other people all the time, we make assumptions about their intentions and sometimes we simply struggle to think differently because we feel justified, we feel right and we want to win.

Think Like a Mediator

But there’s another way of thinking that is far more powerful than your normal mental programming. This is where thinking like a mediator is a powerful tool to support you and help you manage your difficult conversation, because it allows you to change the way you think from suspicion, blame, and judgement to curiosity, contribution, and compassion.

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