Venting is an vital to the mediation process.

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 at hand.

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 work?

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


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

Active Listening

Communicating with "I" Messages

Reframing Issues Positively

Tips for Mediators Asking Questions

Defining the Issues

Brainstorming Inventive Options for a Win-Win Outcome

How to Make Good Decisions

Hints for De-Escalating Conflict

Techniques for Breaking an Impasse

What to Do if They Won't Negotiate

Guidelines for Writing an Effective Agreement

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Annette Nay Homepage

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