Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Warm Hands?

Have you ever heard the old saying "warm hands, cold heart"? Well, there is actually scientific evidence that indicates the opposite is true. Lawrence Williams, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and John A. Bargh, PhD, professor of Psychology at Yale University, (2008) conducted two studies on undergraduate students to assess how temperatures affect emotions. They found that holding warm things may actually make people view others more favorably and may also make people more generous.

In summary, the findings suggest that individuals who are holding something warm in their hands tend to be more cordial, generous and calm than those who were holding something cold. What does this have to do with mediation? If you want to resolve a conflict or disagreement, you need to aware of the physical state that both you and the other party are in at decision making time. Realizing that mediation is concerned with helping two opposing parties to find a creative and mutually acceptable solution to their conflict or dispute. If the room is comfortable and accommodating, then both parties will likely feel more agreeable.

This study does NOT say that holding a warm drink guarantees that individuals will accept any presented suggestion. Both parties are completely in control of the outcome of mediation. Since the process is voluntary, it is important that both or all parties participating believe that finding a solution to resolve the conflict is both desirable and achievable. The details of an agreement frequently includes both monetary and non-monetary, tangible and intangible concessions. The more creative and active each party participates the more likely there is going to be an agreement to resolve the dispute.

The next time a dispute arises, consider doing the following ...
  • inviting the other person to a quiet place for hot coffee/hot tea/hot chocolate
  • find seating that provides privacy
  • have something warm to hold on to before beginning
  • avoid direct confrontation
  • simply identify the facts without assigning blame
  • summarize how these facts directly impact you
  • ask the other party how the facts directly impact them
  • listen without interrupting or refuting their comments
  • ask this simple question ...
    in light of our past experiences, our current circumstances, and our future hopes and dreams - what do you think is the wisest thing for us to do?
  • make notes of the conversation, date & time, place, what was said
Following the previous steps may not result in a mutually acceptable agreement to resolve your conflict. However, creating this experience will etch a positive memory in the mind of the other party. If this matter ever requires you to find legal representation, the details of a meeting to resolve the conflict becomes helpful when a negotiated or legally resolution becomes necessary. Of course, if you are ever in doubt, don't hesitate to speak with a licensed attorney to determine your options.

Williams, L. and Bargh, J.A. (2008) Experiencing physical warmth promotes interpersonal warmth. Science, 322 (5901), 606-607

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