Mediation is about communication and cooperation. When you're involved in a dispute that requires mediation services you are usually either hoping to settle a lawsuit out of court--or avoid a lawsuit altogether. You've probably already prepared what you want to say or ask, and are prepared for questions in return. But are you prepared for the nonverbal communication, as well? Learn how you can convey a positive message at mediation, simply through body language.
Nonverbal Communication Can Count More Than Words
Your body language is the way that your body projects your feelings through your posture, hand gestures, facial expressions, and more. It's the way that you communicate without the use of words.
As much as 80% of your communication is non-verbal, which means that how you say something can be more important than what you say. Being conscious of the automatic evaluations that go on during human interactions can help you influence the outcome of mediation in a positive way.
If you physically project a willingness to come to an equitable agreement through mediation, you may find that the opposing party responds to you in a more open, receptive fashion.
How To Convey A Willingness To Work With The Other Party
There are several ways that you can physically demonstrate a willingness to come to an acceptable agreement with the other party during mediation.
1.) Don't Try To Dominate
When you enter the mediation room, you may be sitting directly across from the other party. If you are, position your chair so that you are turned slightly away from the other party, toward the mediator.
This off-center pose demonstrates that you aren't trying to dominate the proceedings, nor intimidate the other party. When you're wanting to get somebody's cooperation, you don't want to intimidate that person.
It also allows you to subtly convey the sense that you are comfortable with the situation and that you don't feel intimidated by the other party, either.
2.) Use Mirroring To Build Understanding
Mirroring another person's body language is a great way to build rapport and avoid aggression. By mirroring the other party's body language and facial expression, you can start to create a sense of familiarity and sameness. You can subtly convey the message that you want to understand the other party's position and are sympathetic.
If the other party has assumed a hostile posture and is sitting there with stiff shoulders and his or her arms crossed over his or her chest, you naturally don't want to mirror that behavior. Instead, consciously assume a body position that reflects a more positive emotional state. This can help you achieve that emotional state, and hopefully provoke the other party into mirroring you, since for many people the action of mirroring another is unconscious and automatic.
A good example is when you force yourself to smile and look cheerful. People who do that will often feel their inner mood start to shift and improve. If you can shift your mood away from anything negative, you may find that your good cheer is contagious and will affect the mood of the other people in the room.
3.) Be Careful Not To Give Off Negative Cues
Be conscious of negative cues that you might be accidentally giving off. For example: avoid staring too hard at someone, which can be perceived as hostile, and don't point when you speak, which is both aggressive and an indication of lying.
Some people cross their arms over their chests just because it is comfortable, but that particular posture is seen as defensive and unyielding in a lot of cases.
You also should be careful not to yawn, drop your head in your hands, or stare off into the distance while someone is talking. All of those actions can be interpreted by others as disinterest - and you are certainly not disinterested in the outcome of your mediation!
Some people are naturally better at communication through body language than others, just as some people are better at oral communication than others. However, with a little conscious effort and planning, you can walk into mediation and physically convey your willingness to come to an agreement. That can help influence the opposing party's reaction to you in a positive way, and hopefully smooth the entire process.
For more tips on successful mediation, reach out to a local service, like Mitchell Mediation Service.