Facilitating a Conversation as a Bystander

One of the great things about having a good deal of training and experience as a mediator, is that it spills over into so many other areas of life.  Having worked very hard at helping parties communicate effectively in mediation, I have found that my skills in that area are an asset in conversations of all types.  As a mediator, I can sit in on any type of conversation, without preparation, and find a way to be helpful — if the participants wish it. So, for instance, if I am sitting in a conversation and I don’t understand what the purpose of the meeting is, or what the focus of the conversation is — that might flag a problem. I might be able to simply ask the question to clarify for myself and others what the focus of the discussion should be. If it is not clear to me, it is probably not clear to others — or they may have drifted away from it.  For some reason, I most enjoy this type of role — in which I can tweak the dialogue in such a way that I don’t affect the substance of what is discussed or decided, but help them communicate effectively and productively. In this role,  I am not the leader of the discussion. There is another leader in the room, or it is simply a conversation among two or three people. As a leader, I would have needed to know more about the purpose of the meeting and other matters. As someone who is facilitating as a bystander, I can attend to clarity, focus and communication, while others look to substance. This division of labor can be very effective in some circumstances.

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