Facilitating and modulating expression in conflict

Nick AdlingtonUncategorizedLeave a Comment

What does “facilitating expression” look like in practice?

In the last article, “The under-expressed and the over-expressed in conflict”, I referred to an aspect of the mediator role as one who facilitates and modulates expression. I also said I would say more about what this might look like in practice. Therefore, this article will be a short(ish!) and sharp list of possible approaches, actions, interventions that a mediator may make to help parties say what needs to be said and hear what needs to be heard:

As a facilitator and modulator of expression a mediator may:

  • Bring attention to any particular speed in conversation (fast, slow or otherwise) and explore the value of a different pace if necessary
  • Bring curiosity to what is being shared and ask clarifying questions that enables those concerned to understand more about their experience and what they might wish to share with the other(s)
  • Ask focussing questions that enables those concerned to reflect on what it is they wish to share, know more about, etc
  • Help each person concerned understand what is most important to them through questioning, reflecting back, checking-out/enquiring about
  • Change the tempo through reflective questioning, particularly if strong emotions are being expressed in a way that is polarising those concerned
  • Either in one-to-one or joint conversations, enquire or imagine into feelings, that these may be surfaced and aired where a mediation participant wishes to do so
  • Hold in mind the potential for shame to arise and if someone may be withdrawing in response to shame they are feeling, tenderly reach out to them and invite them back into relationship
  • Pay attention to one’s own (mediator) in-the-moment experience, keeping oneself calm and grounded by following the breath in and out
  • Daily meditation practice (as strongly advocated by Ken Cloke), to enable the mediator to retain their critical thinking, sensing, feeling faculties and moderate any personal reactions or judgements that arise 
  • Where you may feel there is receptivity for this, ask those concerned if they may wish to pause and take a moment to take in some air
  • Invite or offer movement where you feel this could be helpful and where mediation participants feel willing
  • Depending on the circumstance, invite a mediation participant to speak directly to the other person rather than to you as the mediator
  • Pay attention and bring awareness of those present to what is happening between them in the “here and now” of the mediation, that something could be done differently in the present rather than trying to resolve things that have passed
  • Invite mediation participants to, at least some of the time, speak from the perspective of “I ……” rather than “You ……..”
  • Consider the location for the mediation and consider what sort of room or other space will give the best chance for people to feel relaxed and able to share and listen
  • Consider seating arrangements and what is the best set-up for the mediation meeting you are holding

The above is a brief starting list of at least some things to take into account when facilitating and/or modulating expression in a conflict situation. I’m always interested to hear of people’s best practice so please get in touch if there are others ideas you wish to share.


An article by Nick Adlington, go-dialogue


go-dialogue works with families, organisations, companies, and communities, to build heart felt relationships and………… liberate the creative spirit.


Photo by Brian Lundquist on Unsplash

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.