Explanation of the skill

The skill of self-expression addresses the challenge of expressing ourselves from inner connection with self and the others, without judgment or demand, when one or both of the parties are behaving in ways that are not meeting our needs as the mediator.

Examples of using the skill

If we continue with the example from the Self Empathy from above, after having done Self Empathy, you may either choose Empathy (which is the first of the Nine Skills) or you may choose Self Expression, which is the eighth skill. Before expressing however, you might want to do some Silent Empathy. If however you choose to go straight to Self Expression, it might sound like the following. "Person A, when I hear you say things to Person B like 'your idiotic way of thinking', I am concerned about the effect this will have upon B's capacity to listen and willingness to stay in the mediation. Because I would like to support each of you to be heard, I'd like to know what B said that prompted you to say what you said about her way of thinking? Would you be willing to say?"

Another example for using Self-Expression is when people are talking over each other or start talking when the mediator is empathizing with the other person. In this case the mediator might say something like, "Excuse me, excuse me person B. Hearing you talking while I'm talking with person A, I really want to hear what you have to say, and, I'd like to understand what person A is saying. Would you be willing for me to spend about another 5 minutes with person A and then come back to hearing you?"


Exercise 1

Dyad practice: 2-Chair role-play with Enemy Image Process (also see description in earlier section)


A. The "Initiator" first plays themselves expressing fully, especially their judgments/demands, to the "Other" with whom they are experiencing conflict. Someone else plays the role of the Other, practicing skills of empathy.

     •  Initiator can practice ending on a present request - "connecting request".
          ♥  Request for reflection, e.g. "Would you tell me your understanding of what I said, so I can know if I was clear?"
          ♥  How do you feel about what I have said?"
     •  Elements of empathy -- presence, understanding/meaning, need language/deepening, and reflecting action.
     •  The person playing the Other may also periodically want to ask for a pause in the role-play and do Self-Empathy, and then go back into the role-play.

B. The Initiator now plays the role of the Other, expressing fully, especially judgments that the Initiator believes the Other may have of them. The person previously playing the Other now plays the role of the Initiator, with skills of empathy.

C. The Initiator now plays themselves again, starting from the beginning of the dialogue, this time attempting to create connection.

     •  The person playing the Other responds again with skills of empathy, but also somewhat closer to how the real "Other" might respond.
     •  Initiator now attempts to express more from Observations, Feelings, Needs, and Requests.
     •  Initiator can request how challenging they would now like the Other to be played.

Exercise 2:

In triads, mediator works with challenges of:

     •  Disputants talking over each other
     •  Disputants express anger, disconnection with mediator