Let’s leave our dispute resolution expertise aside for a moment. If I had to package up the skills that a mediator, or anyone tasked with facilitating negotiations, would do well to have, that package might surely remind you of a grandmother you know, or knew. Here’s why:
- Grandmothers are good at seeing the positive core of each person
- Grandmothers appreciate; unconditionally, with love, and given that appreciation may be the most significant human psychological need.
- Grandmothers are good observers, listeners, standing back, encouraging, giving cookies
- Grandmothers ask us to be compassionate; to put ourselves in the others shoes
- Grandmothers are comfortable with life’s paradoxes; they remind us how its largely our choice, how we respond to conflict
- Grandmothers understand how ego can be an obstacle to settlement; in their own way, they’ll tell us to keep your dignity you need to give up your pride.
- Grandmothers understand the give and take of negotiations, and that by giving to others, you will receive
- Grandmothers think a lot about the big picture, the future, legacy, agreement; leaving the party well means knowing what will happen after you’ve left.
- Grandmothers are skilled at focusing on things that are important; they know what fosters feelings of contentment
- Grandmothers know how to keep the momentum going; how to reframe the glass as half-full, as the going gets tough
- Grandmothers offer safety, a feeling that it’s ok to fail, on the resolution road
And not only do grandmothers make good mediators, they also make fine learning agents (a guest post on Lorie Vela’s Collaboration Ideas blog).
Refining my craft, as a mediator, is ongoing. I’ll take my inspiration where I observe it. What else does a grandmother do for you?
PS. No worries, grandpas. Your turn will come.
photo credit: JoseLoya on Flickr