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