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The Importance of Language

The Importance of Language

Give an example of the importance of language in mediation.



Full Transcript

Say one party points to the other person and says ‘You are lazy.’ Now, beneath the surface of this, we discover that something-, you’ve just been given a cue, a little tiny hint about something that is taking place at a deep psychological level.


Here’s why. Is there a positive description that you can use for someone you’re describing as ‘lazy’? Well, the answer is ‘yes.’ They’re ‘relaxed, carefree, without stress,’ all of those things. So, you’ve chosen the negative word for a reason. Why? Well, now we can see that the word that you have used as an insult is actually like a little trail of breadcrumbs reading back into your subconscious mind.


So, what is going on for you? Here’s the translation of ‘You are lazy.’ ‘I’m working really hard here, and you aren’t, and I would like to take time off, but I don’t give myself permission to do so. So, when I see you taking time off, it actually presents me with my own failure as a human being to look out for myself. But instead of my owning that, I’m going to blame you for it.’


So, what you get is something very, very deep, which is desire to not work so hard yourself or desire for the relationship with the other person, which has nothing to do with the work or with being lazy. It has to do with the fact that you’d like to be doing it together. It would just be a lot more fun.


So, this is just a small example, and there are lots of possibilities that grow out of it, but we can imagine others that are very similar.

About the mediator

Ken Cloke Mediator

Kenneth Cloke is Director of the Center for Dispute Resolution and a mediator, arbitrator, attorney, coach, consultant, and trainer, specializing in communication, negotiation, and resolving complex multi-party disputes, including marital, divorce, family, community, grievance and workplace disputes, collective bargaining negotiations, organizational and school conflicts, sexual harassment, discrimination, and public policy disputes; and designin... View Mediator