Listen for what is NOT being said.

Listening to what is not being said

Listen for what is NOT being said

Listen for what is NOT being said is counter-intuitive, but very important.  You need to find the elephant in the room.   Listening for what is not being said is the primary job of the mediator.  What we do is listen, clarify and re-frame.  We may notice trends that people embroiled in the conversation simply can’t see.   We give our impressions – not recommendations.

Margaret Heffernan postulated this counter-intuitive idea by using the following re-framing questions:

  • If the conversation is being framed about money, consider what is not being talked about.
  • If everyone’s talking technology, what have they left out of their equation?

the key component of a successful mediation

Listening is most likely the key component of a successful mediation.  Everyone has to listen to all aspects of the conflict in safe surroundings.  That’s why I say that mediation is conflict at its best.

Margaret Heffernan (born 1955) is an international businesswoman and writer. She was born in Texas, raised in the Netherlands, educated at Cambridge University and settled in the UK near the city of Bath.

She is the author of five books: The Naked Truth: A Working Woman’s Manifesto about Business and What Really Matters, How She Does It (published in paperback as Women on Top), Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at our Peril, A Bigger Prize: Why Competition isn’t Everything and How We Do Better, and Beyond Measure – a short book commissioned by TED.

While Heffernan’s first two books focused on these issues as they impact women in the workplace, her overarching theme has been the need to recognize and release the talent that often lies buried inside organizations, under-valued and under-rewarded because it is unconventional. Heffernan’s voice is primarily one of critical challenge, taking little at face value and regularly questioning received wisdom.

Ken_Strongman_003smAbout the Author: Ken Strongman ( has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator.  He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment.  He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.

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