Communication for Optimum Results

Sue O'Brien Tips Leave a Comment

The parties in any dispute, and indeed their advisers, may have very different styles of communication. 
 
For example,  high context communicators tend to illustrate what they are saying by using stories and metaphors and may appear to meander around the point. For them, the surrounding circumstances are important.
 
In contrast,  low context communicators favour direct and speedier communication of facts, with far less regard to surrounding circumstances. They may find a high context counterpart hard to follow and time-wasting, whilst themselves being viewed as abrupt and insensitive.
 
These different styles can lead to impatience and frustration, or feelings of stress and pressure. This in turn can affect the decision-making process of each party and the quality of decisions made. Miscommunication risks making the dipsute worse.
 
The parties need to make the best decisions they can because that will give any settlement reached the optimum chance of becoming a lasting solution.
 
An experienced mediator will be aware that different behaviour does not necessarily signify different intentions. People just go about things differently. The parties may well have the same intent (such as to find a solution to a shared problem) but a different way of going about the process.
 
Having recognised the issue, the mediator can go about helping the parties to acknowledge and accommodate any such mismatch in style. That in itself is a valuable step towards rescuing a dispute from the mire of accumulated misunderstanding.

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