Empathic Listening

Long a neglected skill, many of our respondents stressed the very critical role of listening for both disputants and third party intermediaries.

Disputants' Listening

Disputants seldom listen to each other, until they get into a mediation or dialogue process. Once they do, conflict transformation is often the result.

Morton Deutsch explains how listening to the other can actually allow people to see that "non-negotiable" differences can actually be resolved in a mutually satisfactory way.
Robert Stains discusses the power of storytelling and dialogue and the key role of listening.
Elise Boulding discusses networking and listening.
Susan Dearborn of the Pacific Family Mediation Institute suggests that focusing on common values or principles can generate empathy and help parties to recognize each other's concerns. In the end, recognition may be more important than the substantive issues. She describes a mediation regarding financial compensation for costly adaptive facilities installed for someone with a disability.
Elise Boulding explains that women have a special role in peacekeeping because they are "listeners."
Julia Chaitin says, listening to "the others'" stories can be difficult, but valuable.
Eileen Babbitt discusses an application of what is called a "to reflect and trust" (TRT) process amongst Arab Israelis and Jews that aims to train facilitators. From there, the goal is to develop consensus building and problem solving skills.
Silke Hansen speaks about building trust between parties.
Nancy Ferrellexplains how she coaches both sides to explain their issues in a way they are heard and understood.
Nancy Ferrell explains how empathy is necessary for successful relationships and successful mediation.
Dick Salem talks about the importance of empathic listening in dealing with the emotional aspects of mediation.
Civil rights mediator Stephen Thom explains how he helps each side understand the others' perspectives.

Third Party Listening

Empathic listening is also key to most third party intervention, be it mediation or facilitation of dialogues, consensus-building processes, or problem solving workshops, as these comments illustrate.

Frank Dukes talks about the profound impact of listening.
Silke Hansen suggests that effective listening on the part of mediators is critical.
Mediator and scholar Marcia Caton Campbell says the two most critical things you can learn are how to listen and how to "shut-up."
What's the most important skill conflict intervenors can have? Listening, according to Paul Wehr.
Mark Gerzon explains that empathy, dialogue and humanization are terms not often associated with the U.S. House of Representatives, but all of these elements are what emerged during a retreat for Representatives from both sides of the aisle. He also designed and helped facilitate the process.
Barry Hart of Eastern Mennonite University discusses the importance of listening in facilitating trauma healing.
Herb Kelman describes how problem solving workshops differ from other kinds of third-party processes, and describes the process he uses in detail.
Mohammed Abu-Nimer asks what qualities are necessary for interfaith dialogue facilitators?
Elise Boulding explains that women have a special role in peacekeeping because they are "listeners."
Civil rights mediator Silke Hansen describes how she builds trust with minority groups even though she is white.
Nancy Ferrell explains how she persuaded a business community to address a racial problem with Iranian students by convincing the white leaders that the conflict might impact their financial interests.
Nancy Ferrell describes how she coaches all the parties so they can participate effectively in the mediation process.