How To Talk Like A Mediator Part Four

From Gini Nelson’s Blog Engaging Conflicts

This concludes Mary Greenwood’s series based on an excerpt from Chapter 9, How To Mediate Like A Pro, published February 2008. Here are the links to Parts One, Two, and Three.


As her bio states:

Mary Greenwood is an attorney, Mediator and Author of award-winning book, How To Negotiate Like A Pro: 41 Rules for Resolving Disputes and her most recent book is How To Mediate Like A Pro:42 Rules for Mediating Disputes.She lives in Miami Beach, Florida. Her website is and her email address is

How To Talk Like A Mediator

One of the hardest jobs of a mediator is to give a good response to the parties’ concerns. After mediating thousands of cases, I have heard a lot of questions and concerns from the parties. The mediator has to give a response that informs without alienating one or both parties. Here are some responses that a mediator can make. They are not the only response but what I consider a good response.

How the Mediator Can Reframe One Party’s position.

The Mediator can change the tone of what is said to him. One side might be angry, distraught, and accusatory and say things that would solicit a negative response. Here are some examples of toning down the language.

Party: I am mad as hell and won’t take it anymore!

Mediator’s Interpretation: The other side is a little upset.

Party: He is a crook and liar.

Mediator’s Interpretation: The other side does not believe you.

Party: He did not send the item.

Mediator’s Interpretation: The party did not receive the item. Have you sent it yet?

Party: I want to quit this mediation.

Mediator’s Interpretation: The buyer wants me to close the case.

Party: The other party is the biggest jerk I have ever met.

Mediator’s Interpretation: The other party does not like what you have done.

Party: The item was smelly and filthy.

Mediator’s Interpretation: The buyer says the item was not clean and had an odor.

Party: I don’t trust him.

Mediator’s Interpretation: The buyer does not think you will do what you say you will.

Party: The seller ripped me off.

Mediator’s Interpretation: The buyer says he does not like what you did.

Party: He is just stupid.

Mediator’s Interpretation: The other party does not think you understand his position.

Party: Refurbished is supposed to be like new. This was a piece of garbage with scratches and dings.

Mediator’s Interpretation: His idea of refurbished is different from yours. He says there were scratches and dings.

Party: I would not sell my house to him if he was the last person on earth.

Mediator’s Interpretation: He has decided not to sell the house to you.


Gini Nelson

Gini Nelson is a sole practitioner in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her practice emphasizes private dispute resolution, including distance dispute resolution, and domestic, bankruptcy and bankruptcy avoidance law. MORE >

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