The best gift we can give clients is a large dose of empathy. Empathy is different than sympathy. Sympathy is when we feel bad for someone e.g. “I’m sorry that happened to you.” Empathy is when we take the time to see the world through another’s eyes and dare to go into the heat with them without judgment. Humans are hardwired to have an animalistic response when confronted with conflict. The two most known responses are fight and flight.
However, there are two lesser discussed responses: fawn and freeze. Collectively, these responses are called the “Four Stages of Shock.” As Mediators, we should learn to recognize when someone is stuck in a phase. When we do, and we roll up our sleeves and get in it with them, that is when we can help them find their way out via empathy and asking the right questions.
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