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Building Party Confidence

Building Party Confidence

How can you build the confidence of the parties in a courtroom?



Full Transcript

You put the person where they are in charge of themselves. They don’t need an external person to say, to take charge of them. And certainly in courts very often people will have tantrums. I mean I describe it that way because that’s what it is, just an adult tantrum has a very different perception. But one of the things that you did was a very important phenomenon for mediators and that is that you do what you can to get this person talking in a strange situation. Because once they have heard themselves begin to communicate in that setting they become more confident and they’re able then to say what needs to be said in that setting.


You don’t lead them into [an area] by taking them somewhere they don’t want to go. Once he had heard himself say it to you, he was much more likely to be able to say it someone else. Because what you’re role, in that moment, was to model acceptance. And it wasn’t just modelling acceptance, you said, you were curious, and you were interested in what he had to say. And you accepted what he had to say for one, if I can put it this way, one man to another. In fact in a funny kind of way, one business man to another.


Not the same business, but once he’d done that he was able to do it again. That perhaps also goes into mediation as one of these important ideas that you use what you’ve got. And you used a private moment. Mediators use a private session. You take that person into private and say, “Look, we’ve had a couple of hours together, but I get the feeling that you’re not saying everything there is to be said. I wonder why that is?” And let them say, “Look, I don’t want to tell these guys the following stuff.” And you can say, “Why? Why is that?”


And then you can encourage them to say precisely this if the person thinks this is what the other side needs to hear. All they need is to be able to be primed to do it. Now obviously a judge in the courtroom can’t do that, but one of the things that a judge that had been in a workshop that I ran told me was, he said, “I’ve had far too many people become so nervous that they don’t, they can’t operate in the courtroom. And eventually they just spit the dummy.” As he put it.


They become unmanageable. They shout. They threaten. They get dragged off to the [hills] to cool off for a couple of hours. This is regular, a regular, and he said, “What I do now is when a witness who’s speaking like this” he said, “One Christ like hand and I tell everybody in the court that Mr. or Ms. So and So is speaking, nobody move. I don’t allow people to come in. I don’t allow people to go out. I stop counsel if they speak to one another. And I say can we do Mr. So and So the courtesy of listening.” And he said, “The moment people feel they’re being properly listened to by me, in a courteous way, everything changes. Everything shifts because this is their case. Or in other situations it’s their moment.”


“And I will not allow that moment, for them to be robbed of that moment.”

About the mediator

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Joanna has been working with groups as a mediator for over 20years in highly sensitive inter-racial and political settings all over the world. In 2001 she became chairman of LEADR, Australia’s largest non for profit dispute resolution organisation and in 2006 became a visiting fellow at LEADR. She was a member of the administrative appeals tribunal for 10 years and later a member of the National Native Title Tribunal where she mediated land cla... View Mediator