This activity involves both mediating and reframing. It generally works best if people aren't totally on the same page. When persons A and B pretty much agree with one another, it kind of falls flat. So to really experience mediating, you would want to find people that have differing perspectives in some way. You can also have people switch roles so that other people get a chance to play the mediating role. The mediator can refer to the questions in the gray box to help them move from positions to interest, summarize, clarify, and so forth.
First, identify common ground and differences. And then secondly, shift from their positions to their interests. Were they able to get at the why of their proposed solutions, and what were some of the reasons for their positions. It can be difficult to get past the contrived nature of these role plays, but I would say that to get anything out of it, you just have to suspend disbelief and play along. So even if that means people taking positions that they don't hold-- and that could actually be a really good exercise for people to try to make an argument for a position that is different from their own-- that is also really good for perspective taking.
Invite two people to engage in a conversation about Marcellus Shale. Using active listening skills, play the role of mediator.
Question for discussion:
What do you think should be done about Marcellus Shale?
Mediator uses active listening skills (paraphrasing, summarizing, clarifying) and other questions to:
- Help A and B talk to one another
- Help A and B identify commonalities, differences
- Help A and B identify interests behind positions
Refer to questions below as a guide.
- What concerns/worries/upsets/bothers/frustrates you about ____ (the rig on your neighbor’s property)?
- What is your basic concern in wanting ____ (to ban drilling; to lease your land)?
- What do you fear might happen if ____ (gas companies don’t test water before drilling)?
- What do you hope will happen if ____ (truck traffic is restricted)?
- What do you really care about?
- What is important to you about ____?
- What will [your solution] help you accomplish?
- What leads you to believe that [your solution] will get at what you need?
For the Mediator
- How did you do?
- What skills did you use?
- Were you able to get at the ‘why’ of their proposed solutions?
- What were the reasons for their positions?
- What was the most challenging part of mediating?
For Persons A and B
- How did having C there affect your conversation?
- What did mediators say or do to help you to identify common ground and differences?
- What did mediators say or do to help you shift from positions to interests?