When good intentions don’t always deliver good outcomes
In mediation, I often hear one or both parties saying at some point, ‘I thought I was doing the right thing’ or ‘I thought you would prefer I did…’ or ‘I was just trying to do this in a way you might appreciate’.
What I am hearing is that each party believes they understand the other (or has been trying very keenly to) and adjusting their behaviour or approach accordingly. They show a sense of frustration. Despite their efforts, it would seem they have only been creating tensions.
Conflict Coaching Bridges The Gap
In mediation they express this to the other party; explain their insight and how they have tried time and time again adapt their interactions. They despair that their efforts have been to no avail. Because here we are in mediation.
In private sessions, it is common for a mediation participant to exclaim, ‘I just don’t understand!’ I can hear for this person that in the past, they have been making assumptions based on what they believe to be reliable evidence (the observable data they have been collecting or have been told by a third party is true) and so have formed what they perceive to be a reasonable conclusion that has led them to take the action they have.
When sharing particular incidents, the participant may comment to me, ‘Why would I have acted otherwise? To do so would have just made situations worse.’ If I sense there is an air of confusion when I ask the participant to tell me what they have been hearing from the other party during the preceding joint session, I use a conflict coaching model to ensure a space is created for them to consider that to really understand the other person; they may have to ask them.
If I feel it is warranted, I am quite directive in my approach and will state myself. By the conclusion of this private session, the participant now has a short list of questions they would like to pose to the other party. Back in the joint session, when one starts to ask the other a question with the intention of wanting to understand the other (rather than just keep reiterating their own perspective), there is a remarkable positive shift in the joint discussion.
Emotional Intelligence Competencies
It is not people’s intentions to be empathetic that seems to be a missing link for at least one party to the mediation. It is that person’s interpretation of what ‘Empathy’ means. Empathy is understanding the other person, in the same way as the other person wishes to be understood. Rarely can this be achieved only through observation of the other. Being empathetic requires one to be humble and so they can develop ‘Self-Knowing’.
Self-Knowing, besides other qualities, is to recognise that years of knowledge building and acquiring of experience does not make one an expert in interpreting other people. We are only ever experts in interpreting other people when we do so from our own perspective.
Being empathetic requires one to be courageous so they can develop ‘Self-Confidence’, to step out of their comfort zone and reach out to the other and ask them, ‘Please share with me your perspective on…’, or ‘Please explain to me how you would prefer I…’. If this can be done with a good degree of ‘Self Control’ then one will be able manage their emotions and reactions to stay calm and focused on the other person and not be swayed by feelings.
Being ‘Straightforward’ in this discussion assists the other person to believe you are transparent in your intentions and your thoughts.
- 1Empathy is considered by Roche Martin to be one of the ten Emotional Intelligence Competencies.
- 2Self Knowing is considered by Roche Martin to be one of the ten Emotional Intelligence Competencies.
- 3Self Confidence is considered by Roche Martin to be one of the ten Emotional Intelligence Competencies.
- 4Self Control is considered by Roche Martin to be one of the ten Emotional Intelligence Competencies.
- 5Straight Forward is considered by Roche Martin to be one of the ten Emotional Intelligence Competencies.
Add to this a high level of ‘Relationship Skills’ and this can assist one to gain the support and commitment of the other to enter into and maintain a mutually satisfying and beneficial relationship.
Building Emotional Intelligence Capacity In Your Leaders
With staff returning to the workplace post the Covoid-19 ‘lock down’, building the emotional intelligence capacity of your leaders will be crucial.
If you would like to know more about a Workplace Harmony Solutions leadership training or Executive Coaching, in which we can incorporate the use of the Roche Martin Emotional Capital Report profiling tool, contact us here.
- 6Relationship Skills is considered by Roche Martin to be one of the ten Emotional Intelligence Competencies.