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Preparing Clients for Mediation: a quick communications course before the first meeting

In that couple-week wait from scheduling to the first meeting, could be a ripe and highly motivated time for Mediation clients to tune up on skillful communications. 

Speaking is an Art; Specific skills can be learned

To communicate well takes tools and skills but also sensitivity, savvy and practice.

Have you ever thought about how the most baisc and essential skills of effective communication are, as a rule, not part of the Education System? While conversation is so basic to all our relations, and while disagreements and even conflict are par for the relationship course, we mostly learn how to communicate by-the-way (modeling and/or trial and error), rather than intentionally.

When a Mediation is upcoming, the best outcomes could be supported when one or both parties pro-actively learn skillful communications. For this reason, and from a longterm devotion to support folks to access their best selves, I recently created the SPEAKWELL skillful communications courses, online.

In my extensive counseling experience, I was often called to faciliate multiple party disagreements and conflicts spontaneously. I was repeatedly impressed by how some sincere applied thought, guidance, and learning of new tools for communications would help people feel like they could be more themselves and be more understood. It was often the lead to breakthroughs, just by practicing good communication modes, not to mention the resulting agreements, understanding and resolutions.


3   PRIMARY   STEPS  for skillful communications
(as taught in the SPEAKWELL Primary Course) 

1. Crystal Listening

With "Crystal Listening", we allow the other to speak without interruption. Further, we get ourselves in a position to receive information, to be available to fully hear. The benefits of Crystal Listening are not solely for the person talking, who wishes to be heard. This way of listening can greatly benefit the most efficeint and economic resolution of the conflict, which of course, benefits all parties.

2.  Honing Your "Want"

 When we think that we know exactly what we want, typically some aspects of that "want"  linger in shadow. When we "hone our want", we bring light to understanding our wants more wholly. We inquire into what interests and values are at the foundation of those things we want. Being clearly aware of these, we are more primed for collaboration toward resolution and agreements.

3. Intent to Avoid Insult

Folks typically fall on this continuum when it comes to communicating on difficult topics: "Withholding"——-"Not holding back." It can be useful to self-assess where each of us falls on that continuum, as our habitual mode. Additionally, we benefit in understanding that what best supports the skills of a person with either tendency are the tools to speak "well" – that is – speaking in way that is intended to avoid insult.

For one who is inhibited to speak – often this one is hoping to avoid heated interactions or escalation. However, speaking is important for effective communications (most obviously), so learning tools to avoid insult can help prevent the situation that a timid speaker is inhibited by. On the flip side, one who has a tendency to bulldoze with speech, needs the tools to pull back and minimize what could be overbearing in a discussion. In this case, keeping primary the intent to avoid insult is equally necessary. If we are keeping our eye on the goal – resolution, understanding and agreements – insults won’t help get us closer.

Speaking with intent to avoid insult is not limited to "no name calling" or "no put downs". Two essential methods are: 1. Speak about myself, rather than impressions or assumptions of the other and 2. Inquire into the other’s experience via questions.

The SPEAKWELL 3-week Primary Course (online) gives people both tools and reasons to up their communications game, for efficient and effective dialogue and negotiations. This SPEAKWELL course, as well as supplemental short-courses, are available for moderate fees online at And, I’m happy to offer discounts to Law and Mediation Practitioners, for their clientele, who wish to subscribe to SPEAKWELL.


Keren Khaya Abrams

Keren Khaya Abrams [MA Interdisciplinary Arts, BA in Psychology] has devoted her career to facilitating Human Potential, founding "Be Brilliance." Moving from Professional Performing Arts into Counseling & Somatic Energy-work over decades, her current focus is in providing online communications courses, co-creative conflict resolution trainings and mediation. She is Principal… MORE >

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