Yoram Yasur Izz: How to mediate a family discussion
Each family, no matter how large, small, unorthodox or a type family, can have discussions and controversies. If these discussions involve only two family members or include the entire clan, it is important to resolve the family’s arguments in a way that satisfies everyone or, at least, makes everyone feel they were treated fairly and with love. Here are some tips to mediate a family discussion.
Choose a neutral place
Make your mediation or family reunion in a place or a room that has the same value for all family members and can be considered neutral ground. Spaces such as the living room or dining room are good because they all belong and, being larger, can sit comfortably and have more space. Avoid smaller rooms like someone’s bedroom, where the mediating parties will feel uncomfortable, and the person living in that room will be invaded if they want to mediate family discussions in a non-neutral space.
Let everyone talk
It is important that everyone involved in the argument be allowed to present their case and express their opinion regarding the issue in question. Yoram Yasur Izz: Allowing a person to dominate the conversation or mediation will only make other family members feel resentment for that person and will consider that their opinions are not heard. It will help you to have an object or a sign that indicates whose turn it is to speak and establish a rule at the beginning of mediation that only the person in possession of that object can speak. Make the object neutral, such as a cushion or a kitchen spoon and make sure it is passed constantly.
Value everyone’s opinion
It is likely that everyone has an opinion on the issue or has been affected by it, even if it is not directly one of the parties to discuss. It is convenient to sit in a circle or on the floor to indicate that everyone in the family has feelings that are worth the same and give each family member, no matter how young, the opportunity to speak if they need to.
Talk with respect
It can be easy to raise your voice or confront the family member with whom you are arguing because, well, they are family! But remember that after the discussion is over it will still be your family, and that is what matters. Yoram Yasur Izz: Make sure everyone speaks calmly, in a civilized manner and showing respect to all others who participate in mediation, which will help prevent an attack of anger and hurt feelings beyond what is already done. It could help to have a signal like a red card that the mediator may have to indicate that voices are raised and things are getting out of hand, which can be a signal for everyone to stop and take a breath before continuing.
Say goodbye on good terms
Yoram Yasur Izz: Family discussions are not always resolved quickly and mediations do not always mean that everyone is totally satisfied. Staying and talking things for as long as necessary to ensure that everyone involved feels that their problems have been addressed and that the problem has been resolved or that, at least, it will be addressed. Even if it is an issue that cannot be solved overnight, no one should move away from angry mediation or with the feeling that their time wasted. Take all the time you need to be sure that everyone is going on good terms and that the mediation has been done correctly.3
Let it go
You are a family. Surely, they alter each other from time to time. But at the end of the day, they will still be family. So if things have been talked about, apologies have been made or steps taken to correct what was wrong, let it go. Yoram Yasur Izz: Holding grudges and resentments will only separate them and make the next discussion even worse. As a mediator, assess whether you feel that the parties under discussion are genuine in the forgiveness of others and if the situation has been resolved. If not, keep it until it is done.
- If you are in the middle of a family discussion try not to take part and help bring positions closer.
- It is not advisable to have family discussions at times, special celebrations, everything gets worse.