Venting is an vital to the mediation process.
- Venting allows each person to say exactly what his/her position is.
- Everyone else is to listen carefully, respectfully, without interruption.
- The mediator may starts by calling on each person one at a time to tell
their point of view.
- The individual speaks only to the mediator. If words or accusations are
directed to others, the mediator orders the person to tell their story to
- Other participants are to take notes so that s/he can jot down any
questions or points that need to be brought up later.
This part of the mediation serves a number of important purposes. It helps
each person to "blow off steam." A person who is full emotion and/or
ideas is too full to hear what others are saying. The venting process gives him
/her a forum to get these thoughts and feelings out in the open while others
truly listen, perhaps for the first time.
Many mediators use active or reflective listening during the venting stage. This
skill involves listening intently, and keeping on track by occasionally
"reflecting back either the substance of the feeling of what has been said.
When venting moves to other areas that are not being discussed at this time the
mediator uses a statement or question to bring the speaker back to the subject
- The mediator gets a detailed idea of what the situation is.
- If there is a question as to the meaning of a statement the mediator asks
questions and restates the point until it is clarified. The mediator does
this in a non-threatening way.
- This information will be used later to separate out the "wants"
from their "needs."
Example of Reflective Listening
John: I can't work with Bill.
Mediator: You sound frustrated. Explain why this is.
Example of Bring the Speaker back to the Subject
The subject is getting rid of vulgar language in the work place.
John: Bill uses such vulgar language that I can't hear what he is really
trying to tell me for the filth. Then there was the time that he bumped into my
car in the parking lot and broke my taillight.
Mediator: John how does not hearing Bill stop you from doing a good job at
The use of venting gets the issues out on the table and allows both sides to
be heard by both sides. This is all done without blowups because it is done in a
controlled environment. In the end, if this process has been done correctly,
each person will feel validated.
The AD2 R Equation
- Acknowledge ... Acknowledge the person's feelings, thoughts, and/or ideas.
Accord them with respect even if you do not agree with them.
- Distract ... Distract the individual that is bent on monopolizing the time
or is venting about everything under the sun. Use a joke or smooth change of
subject. Use a question to move on.
- Deferred ... If a subject is properly accommodated at this time state that
it is important and that it will be addressed at a later time.
- Refer ... Some subjects need to be addressed elsewhere, by a professional
of some type. Refer him/her to that professional.
Options Unlimited (1990). Mediation.
Other Mediation Articles
Dispute Resolution Continuum
Five Problem Solving Methods
Stages of Mediation
The Job of the Mediator
Rules of Mediation
Communicating with "I"
Reframing Issues Positively
Tips for Mediators Asking
Defining the Issues
Brainstorming Inventive Options
for a Win-Win Outcome
How to Make Good Decisions
Hints for De-Escalating
Techniques for Breaking an Impasse
What to Do if They Won't Negotiate
Guidelines for Writing an
Annette Nay, Ph.D.
Annette Nay Homepage
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