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Mediation Tips

Tips for talking through troubles

At some point most people encounter difficulties with a neighbor, family member, colleague or business. If a situation isn’t resolved, sometimes it can grow into a much larger problem. Here are some tips to help you work through issues or troubles.

Think ahead before you meet

  • Plan on talking to the person with whom you have the problem. It’s the two of you who need to work out the solution. Don’t pull other people into your conflict.
  • Plan ahead and make time to think about the problem, how it affects you and how you can clearly articulate what the problem is. For example, if a neighbor’s hedge bothers you, ask yourself, "Why?" Maybe it's because you can’t see when you back out of your driveway and you’re afraid you’ll hit a pedestrian.
  • Find a good time to talk to the person. You want a block of time when both parties can focus on the situation. Before work or after a busy or exhausting day is generally not a good time for solving a problem.
  • Find a comfortable spot to talk about your issue. Invite the other party over a cup of coffee or sitting on the porch.
  • Have a positive attitude about working together with this person to find solutions. Think of your problem as a challenging puzzle the two of you can solve. Don’t antagonize the other person by using unfriendly language or by blaming that person for everything.

While you talk it through

  • Give information about your feelings on the situation and how it affects you. For instance, “When your car blocks my driveway, I get angry because I can’t get to work on time,” is more informative than, “You block my driveway just to annoy me.”
  • Listen to the person's comments on the situation. Try to learn how that person feels about it. You may not agree with everything, but show that you hear what they are saying and you appreciate their willingness to discuss the matter.
  • Talk it through and get out all the issues and emotions. Don’t leave out the part that seems too difficult to discuss or too insignificant to be important. Your solution will work best if all issues are discussed thoroughly.
  • Consider possible options to remedy the problem. Be open to the other person's suggestions. You might be surprised at how creative you can be when you work together to find solutions.
  • Be clear and specific about a solution you can agree on and comply with. For instance, “I will turn off my music at midnight,” is clearer than, “I won’t play music loud anymore.”
  • Agree to check with each other at specific times to make sure the agreement is working, and stick to it.