Hearing what isn't said

Posted by Andy Hament

January 11, 2024

The well-known management consultant, Peter Drucker, once observed, “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” And in mediation, what isn’t said often reveals issues and opportunities along the path forward.

What is unsaid relates to both visual cues and what could be said but is not vocalized.  In mediation, it is important for counsel and parties to both watch and listen.  And for your mediator, being acutely observant is an essential skill. Within a very short period, the mediator must “read the room” and somehow forge a path to bring battling and often embittered parties together.  A mediator must employ acute observational skills when it comes to behaviors, emotions, and other non-verbal communications. The slightest hesitancy, a sideways glance, a hand gesture, silence, or an array of other non-verbal cues can speak volumes.  By tuning into these subtleties, the mediator can get to the heart of the matter and help the parties find solutions.