The Mediation Times


The Use of Humour is a Core Mediator Strength

by Amanda on August 17, 2009

One of the core strengths of a mediator is to have a sense of humour and the ability to use humour appropriately to lighten the tone or refocus people away from a slide into some very unhelpful place. It is a skill that parties appreciate but it is not necessarily one that they think of when they look to appoint a mediator.  I can recall many times when humour has really helped parties get out of deadlock and they have remembered that point well.

Humour is a risky thing, as stand-up comics will attest. You definitely have to be confident that you have built enough rapport and trust before there can be a good chance of successful deployment. Your sense of humour can’t be a surprise either. So if you do use humour then you need to make sure that it is part of the person you bring into the room.

In a recent mediation, I coached everyone on how they might get the best out of the negotiation. Along the way, I brought the attention of each to thinking of the consequences of their latest “idea” for an offer. One of the lawyers asked me what I thought the other side wanted. Not an uncommon question and one which I rarely answer in a way that puts a figure on the table. My response this time was “I think they need you to feel pain.”

And on that note, can I send you in the direction of a wonderful web site which has great cartoons, depicting great insights into mediation and in this case, negotiation strategy at mediations. Enjoy!

Update: Cartoon included with permission 10.05.09.giraffe.mediator

Other mediation cartoons at Law Comix


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