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Dear Abby’s Resolutions for 2013

14 Jan

I can’t remember the last time I read ‘Dear Abby.’ But for some reason, her column about New Year’s Resolutions caught my eye. Probably because a group of friends and I had just been talking about how none of us were committing to New Year’s resolutions for 2013.

As a mediator, “Dear Abby’s” resolution that resonated with me the most was “Just for today … I will not interrupt when someone else is speaking.”

How simple is that resolution?? Yet … how many times do you hear people interrupt one another every day? How often are you to jump in and finish someone else’s sentence? How many times have I done it? OK … more often than I would like to admit.

One of the first steps in mediation is to talk about ground rules – those guidelines that address the behavior of the participants. Why is letting someone finish their thoughts so important and such a fundamental ground rule? Because we can’t talk and listen at the same time. So, when we interrupt someone else, we are not only discourteous, but we are also interrupting their thought flow and chance to use their own words. On top of that, we are not really listening to what they have to say … we are too busy figuring out how to fill in the blanks.

Thanks, Abby. What a great reminder. So, starting right away, I will try to put one of my mediator ground rules into practice – and work harder to really listen and not interrupt – every day, whether in a mediation or not.

Jeanette

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