ARBITRATION + MEDIATION #265
EYE CONTACT AND POWER – EPISODE 4
At the end of Episode 3 we looked at the words that the Chair might use to defuse a potentially explosive situation;-
“A little tension has crept into the proceedings. That is not a surprise as dispute resolution does stir views + feelings. That said, we all want to work within the acceptable rhythms of the process + each of us has a part to play in keeping matters on the right side, and not the wrong side, of disagreement.” Don’t rush your words but don’t linger either. And make sure “and not the wrong side” is said with a little deliberation. Good eye contact works as well.”
The eye contact thing is important. It is a power play by you as Chair and you want to – need to – make eye contact with the advocates in front of you. Not in an aggressive, menacing manner – that does not help. Your body language should not be threatening but as you speak your words, you do want to establish direct eye contact with the two people to whom your words are directed. Look down at the sheet of words instead of at the parties and you concede the key leadership role you have in the process. So, don’t be apologetic or shy or retiring. Be up front, and without histrionics or hand waving, just read out your words but do make sure that you see the whites of the advocates’ eyes as you speak.
For some people, eye contact is awkward. It is not something they do naturally. They prefer to look away. But this takes us back to basics. You are in charge. You are the Chair. You have to be in control. So, fight any embarrassment, and in measured tones say the words as you look directly at the advocates – into the whites of their eyes and not at their clothes or their colours.
EPISODE 5 – ANGER MANAGEMENT
RUDYARD KIPLING’S “IF”