Listening is a significant subset of communication. It is required to help focus when implementing goals and plans. Failure to communicate leads to many problems. Most of the conflicts encountered at home, the workplace and society at large come about as result of miscommunication or a lack of useful listening skills. As mediators, any action or activity of yours must be demonstrable and prove to the client that he or she is well understood. This proof can only be seen or experienced when people know that they have been heard or understood. It is at that point that they open up and give further relevant information that will aid the resolution process.
Some consequences of lack of proper listening skills or improper communication can be lack of coordination in the home, workplace or government society. People always look out for feedback to ensure whether their story was heard and properly understood and when they find out that their story has been distorted or misunderstood, they become frustrated not only with the other disputing party, but also in the entire resolution process, even leading to the loss of trust in you as the mediator.
A very significant aspect of communication that puts a check in the process is when you paraphrase to get feedback from parties as to whether you have understood them well.
One significant way to achieve active listening is in the application or use of the PULSE process. It helps partners, workers and especially professional mediators to establish a structured conversation.
Pulse is an idea and an opportunity to have a conversation where everyone is heard, acknowledged and understood.
The Mediator uses PULSE to create an opportunity for parties to be able to express themselves and facilitate a peaceful process for them to engage and share their stories from the past, learn its impact in their present situation thereby identifying what is missing so that they reach an agreement that will create a better future that is different from their current state.
It gives parties an opportunity to connect with others through a structured conversation.
PULSE gives disputing parties the chance to move from a RED ZONE of conflict where they engage in wrong reflexes of (fight, freeze and flee) to a GREEN ZONE of peace where parties where parties can Release their frustration in an honest but gentle manner, Relax from the pressures and Relate peacefully now trusting.
The PULSE process helps the mediators follow a structured process where resolution is assured. It is a five-stage process that can be used efficiently for resolving even the most delicate and complex disputes, as it provides an opportunity for parties to be open, to listen to and understand concerns and interest which underlie the dispute.
The PULSE process helps the mediator to be more professional. It equips you to build and foster stronger relationships with a structured resolution and action plan for a future commitment that will not only enhance but will also sustain the relationship in future.
Majority of conflict encountered are as a result of miscommunication. Either someone was not listening to, not correctly heard, not understood or he /she feels he has been misrepresented.
This leads to a feeling which if not managed properly results to acrimony that triggers all kinds of the negative relations, including perceptions that lead to anger – hence the actions.
So what is the role of the mediator in the PULSE process?
The main role of the mediator is facilitating change. He is a DELTA .
He Prepares parties for the conversation by explaining the process, laying ground rules, setting protocols for the conversation which he expects them to abide by. He also tries to Uncover the circumstances leading to the issues by having each participant briefly revealing their story so that the mediator can identify, in an impartial, mutually acceptable terms, the subject of the dispute. After that, the mediator then moves the next stage of Learning the significance of the matter to both parties by allowing them to talk directly to each other and identifying underlying interests or what is missing. It is also the role of the mediator together with the parties to Search for possibilities and available options for resolution through brainstorming of options for resolution and then tests them against the criteria to determine which are feasible. The last stage which imposes much obligation on the mediator in the process is the Explain stage where a plan of action is collectively made and captured in writing the details of the plan for the future. It is at this stage that whatever resolution was arrived at is documented with details of who is to do what within stipulated timelines.
Every stage of the PULSE requires high level of listening skills to be employed for a successful progression to the next. Therefore, the mediator’s primary task is to keep the conversation rolling and help parties to listen and speak and use languages effectively. He helps them check out the meaning of each speaker’s statement through paraphrasing their statement and asking probing questions designed to lead parties to further explore the criteria, intent, interpretation or assumptions behind their story/statement.
It is however of utmost priority that mediators acquire and practice effective listening and communication skills for the successful resolution of differences, and also for people in any relationship take time to acquire effective listening skills to avoid conflict and have meaningful conversation. And should conflict arise, always remember to employ the five-stage PULSE process for an effective resolution.