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First Impressions & Thin Slices

by Jeff Thompson
March 2012

Enjoy Mediation by Jeff Thompson

Jeff Thompson

If first impressions are so important in a variety of interactions and professions, what role could it play in mediation sessions?

These first impressions are based on, and often are accurate yet done subconsciously, nonverbal communication cues and elements. Consider:
Did you shake hands of both of the parties when you first met them?
Did you smile?
How were you dressed?
How did you arrange the room?
Was your seat closer to one party?

These are just a few questions to ask yourself how the mediation session begins ever before it 'begins'. I think these nonverbal communication cues and elements, specifically during the initial encounter of the parties are critical to the rest of the session. How important do I think this is? I am doing my PhD research on it! (see a three minute video and/or Prezi on my research HERE).

Interested in reading more about first impressions and thin slice methodology?

I invite you to read my latest article at PsychologyToday.com [HERE]. Below is a snippet:

Thin slice methodology is an important term to understand when it comes to wanting to be effective communicators, especially with nonverbal cues and elements. Firstly, let me be clear that the term 'thin slice' has nothing to do with the width of a slice of pizza!

What thin slice methodology does refer to is observing a small selection of an interaction, usually less than 5 minutes, and being able to accurately draw to conclusions in the emotions and attitudes of the people interacting. These observations are, often surprisingly to many people, very accurate compared to self-ratings and ratings based on the entire interaction. This holds true even when based on observing only a few seconds of the interaction with the first moments of the interaction being the most relevant (Ambady et al, 2000). 5 second clips have been reported to be just as accurate as 5 minutes clips (Ambady & Rosenthal, 1993).

Read the rest [HERE].

Biography


Jeff Thompson, Ph.D., is a professor at Lipscomb University, researcher, mediator, and trainer. He is also involved in crisis and hostage negotiation as well as a law enforcement detective. His research includes law enforcement crisis and hostage negotiation in terrorist incidents. He received his doctorate from Griffith University Law School having researched the impact nonverbal communication has in conflict situations with respect to developing rapport, building trust, and displaying professionalism.

Dr. Thompson has presented and trained on the topic of conflict, mediation, (crisis and hostage) negotiation, communication and nonverbal communication internationally for a variety of audiences including police personnel, government officials, judges, attorneys, physicians, sales people, business professionals, and both graduate and undergraduate students. He has also been published in numerous professional and academic publications.

He is the co-chair of ACR's national Crisis Negotiation Section, and he is an ad-hoc reviewer for multiple academic journals. He received his MS in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution from the Werner Institute, Creighton University School of Law.

(All posts by Jeff Thompson represent his personal reflections and opinions and not that of any organization.)



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