The Mediation Times


Language, lingusitics and mediation

by Amanda on June 15, 2009

Thanks to Anastasia Pryanikova at Lawsagna for the link to this great essay by Lera Boroditsky on how the language we speak affects the way we think.

I found the essay particularly interesting because language is something I pay special attention to when speaking or training in English, with people whose first language is not English. I know that I consciously change the way in which I speak in order to take into account what I know about the language and culture. When it concerns a language I don’t speak, then I pay attention to the symbols and stories of the culture in order to gain a sense of certain cues.

I pay equal attention when I am mediating and other languages are ‘in the room’ because it is an important part of building trust and rapport. Thanks to Lera’s research I now know better why that is useful and effective.

There is a balance because when people learn English they also learn our patterns of thought and idiosyncrasies and one can try too hard. How do I know that I have the balance right? When I can say something I think should be funny and people laugh.

Why does it matter? I find that when people have a different perspective on for example time and amount it affects the whole pace and emphasis of the negotiations. Sense of time is crucial to understanding the effect of events and actions that form part of the dispute and amount affects the perception of value.



  1. [...] the process of looking over her blog, I found one of Amanda’s posts titled Language, linguistics, and mediation. In this post Amanda, referenced a post by Lera Boroditsky titled How Does Our Language Shape the [...]

Previous post:

Next post: