When the stakes are high, the preparation from applied improvisation methodology training allows the brain to manage emotions more effectively and stay focused on building upon what the others are saying. In it’s place at the right time, practice in AIM during low-stakes periods prepare you for the high-stakes scenarios.

Eric Vigo

Managing Director and Founder of Rebooter Group

Originally authored by

KEY TAKEAWAYS

1. The use of applied improvisation give the mediator a way out when they can be boxed in by the words of the opposing party.

2. Applied improvisation gives the mediator free reign to find common ground and space for the other party to be heard. Being heard is sometimes half the battle.

3.Applied improvisation arms the mediator’s creativity for high-stakes scenarios, potentially giving them the edge on their opposing party.

Integrating the Applied Improvisation Methodology (AIM) into Mediation

This article explores the potential benefits of integrating Applied Improvisational Methodologies (AIM) into both mediation training and practice. The goal is to enhance mediators’ skills in several key areas, such as spontaneity, listening, and respectful collaboration.

These skills are essential, even though the adversarial legal system emphasizes different skills for its practitioners. Drawing on insights from AIM and its use in education, particularly conflict resolution, this article shows a path for how mediators can use AIM to succeed in any conflict.

Benefits of Learning AIM for Mediation Practice

The quote highlights how improvisation’s focus on spontaneity aligns with the unpredictable nature of mediation: “Just as in a mediation or negotiation, there are unscripted dialogues. Selecting a position or calculating the other side’s interests ahead of time can block spontaneity and lead to impasse.”

Unlike litigation’s rigid procedures, mediation’s flexibility leans more towards creative solutions by moving beyond problem-solving to a narrative focus on relationships.

AIM equips mediators with the ability to provide creative responses to shifting narratives. Like unscripted actors, mediators adapt to the dynamic sessions, navigating emotional complexities with spontaneity, empathy, and self-reflection.

By embracing AIM, mediators can use story and dialogue to transform conflicts by:

  • Expanding their capacity to experiment with different solutions.
  • Having space for reflection afterward.
  • Creating interventions specifically attuned to the situation and parties involved.

AIM Pathways Relevant to Mediators: Spontaneity, Openness, Respect, and Curiosity

AIM sharpens focus on the immediate moment, leading to more adaptable and spontaneous responses. The “yes-and” technique, which accepts (“yes”) and builds upon (“and”), helps mediators build on suggestions, even phrasing a “no” as a “yes-and” while maintaining their position of “no.” “Yes-and” thrives on curiosity and creativity, and is useful in both low and high-stakes scenarios. By adapting to whatever comes their way, AIM frees the person to explore possibilities and develop flexibility of thought. This also helps the mediator avoid biases and maintain respect for the other side, fostering a sense of collaboration.

Communication

The quote emphasizes listening as a core principle in both AIM and mediation: “Listening intuitively is the key to AIM. AIM is what we do when we carry on a conversation with others or when we enter into a negotiation or mediation.”

Another quote showcases how AIM activities highlight the importance of active listening: “Facilitating listening activities enables the players to observe the consequences of not listening. In a playful setting, this conflict leads to big laughs. In real life, this conflict leads to the courts.“1

Becoming Unstuck in Tense Situations

The following quote draws a parallel between getting stuck in AIM and reaching an impasse during mediation, where both require similar approaches to move forward: The point at which the players do not know what to say is the starting point for improvisation. It is the point at which they turn to each other to look for clues for moving forward. It is the impasse point in a mediation or negotiation.“1

Finding Common Ground with the Unwilling Party

One of the most significant challenges a mediator faces is fostering collaboration when the other party involved has no initial interest in working together. While using logic and reason to convince the resistant party of the benefits of compromise is more standard, AIM bridges that gap and creates an environment conducive to collaboration, even in the face of sustained opposition.

Here’s how AIM’s “yes-and” principle comes into play: you accept what is offered, even negativity, and build upon it. This is because of AIM’s inherent “playfulness.” Mediators can translate this principle into acknowledging the other party’s stance, frustrations, or even anger, without judgment. By validating their emotions, the mediator creates a safer space for open communication, a crucial first step towards collaboration.

Use of "yes-and" and Other AIM Activities in Effective Mediation

Identify underlying concerns and hidden interests.

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.

Subtly shift the focus from entrenched positions towards exploring common ground.

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.

Disarm hostility.

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.

Introduce lightheartedness

This helps remind the parties of their shared humanity. This shift in atmosphere can open doors for collaboration that may have been previously slammed shut.

This simple activity can profoundly impact how the brain learns to take in new information.

An example in action: One Word Game

Certain activities train the brain to be spontaneous under stress.

A group of 3-8 people builds stories one word at a time.

$

Each person adds a word to the previous word to create or finish a sentence. The activity doesn’t block or judge any word; it’s accepted and built upon by the next person.

$

No one can decide they dislike the direction and throw in another word.

Keep looping until story comes to a natural end, or you need to get on with other things.

AIM Doesn't Guarantee Immediate Agreement, But It Paves the Way

While AIM doesn’t guarantee immediate agreement, it paves the way for collaboration, even with an initially unwilling party. This transforms the mediator into a facilitator, guiding the conversation towards a space where both sides feel heard and respected, creating fertile ground for potential solutions to emerge.

In Summary

This means that when the stakes are high, the preparation from AIM training allows the brain to manage emotions more effectively and stay focused on building upon what the others are saying. In it’s place at the right time, practice in AIM during low-stakes periods prepare you for the high-stakes scenarios.

References

Debra Gerardi (9/2001), ‘Using Improvisation to Develop Conflict Resolution Skills’, Mediate’, https://www.mediate.com/articles/geradi1.cfm

OTHER ARTICLES BY REBOOTER GROUP

Improvisation Takes Practice

Managers and employees who are capable improvisers will steer their companies through crises and paradigm shifts, from technological breakthroughs and changing trade regulations to environmental disasters and the myriad challenges associated with the Covid-19...

Using Improv to Unite Your Teams

… Teams often don’t improve employee engagement or productivity. Leaders tend to dominate the conversation; they don’t listen and shut down others’ ideas. Consequently, team members are often too afraid, or simply too bored and disengaged, to contribute their own...

Can Improv Improve Marketing?

After participating in the Forbes CMO Excursion with the Wharton Future of Advertising Program, it was easy to see that improv is much more than just tickling a funny bone.Originally authored byListening: Improvisers must actively listen, focus, observe and be able to...

We Need Imagination Now More Than Ever

Imagination is also one of the hardest things to keep alive under pressure.Companies that are able to do so can reap significant value.Originally authored by1) Carve out time for reflection; 2) Ask active, open questions; 3) Allow yourself to be playful; 4) Set up a...

Three Ways You Can Hone Your Leadership Skills With Improv

The Improv idea of "yes" is probably one of the most mainstream principles that really does amazing things in communication when put into practice.Originally authored by1. Find Comfort In Uncomfortable Situations 2. Learn To Communicate And Listen 3. Start To Take...

Cracking the Code of Sustained Collaboration

Leaders who are frustrated by a lack of collaboration can start by asking themselves a simple question: What have they done to encourage it today.It is only by regularly owning their own mistakes, listening actively and supportively to people’s ideas, and being...

Why Improv Training Is Great Business Training

“When you’re meeting things habitually with ‘"Yes, And",’ with an energy of agreement, you transform the way people perceive you.” Originally authored by They must be present in the moment, listening carefully, and contributing freely. “You need to be comfortable not...

How Empowering Your Staff Can Prevent Million-Dollar Losses

In this article, we cover white agility is – as definitions are essential – what the workplace can look like, when it lives in agility, and watch challenges, you will face in bringing this into the workforce. Originally authored by1. Agility, defined as the ability to...

A New Era for Construction: Prioritising Worker Wellbeing

This article argues for, and goes into detail about, a growing need to incorporate human factors into cost estimates for construction project bids, especially given state governments' emphasis on promoting mental health and work-life balance for construction...

Expecting a ‘Black Swan’ event before it happens

When you actively and deeply listen, you can expect and counter Black Swan events quicker and easier, thus saving your organisation a lot of potential grief and open up to a lot of potential opportunity.Originally authored by1. Have a more adaptable mindset, embrace...

Retaining Customers and Enhancing CX through Service Improvisation

In this article, we cover white agility is – as definitions are essential – what the workplace can look like, when it lives in agility, and watch challenges, you will face in bringing this into the workforce. Originally authored by1. Agility, defined as the ability to...

The Importance of Human Skills in Decision Making: “Thinking Slow to Move Fast”

Being in the present (and not the past or future in your head) can be difficult, particularly in uncertain times. However, it has power and potency in all areas of decision-making and leadership.Originally authored by1. When you slow down, you become more efficient...

How Improv Methods from Comedy Can Lift Business Performance

“When you’re meeting things habitually with ‘"Yes, And",’ with an energy of agreement, you transform the way people perceive you.” Originally authored by1. “yes” on its own is a definitive end. “And,” is the bridge to what you do with this information. 2. It should be...

Enhancing Mediation Practice Through the Art of Improvisation

When the stakes are high, the preparation from applied improvisation methodology training allows the brain to manage emotions more effectively and stay focused on building upon what the others are saying. In it's place at the right time, practice in AIM during...

5 Keys To Embedding an Agility Mindset Across Your Orgnaisation

In this article, we cover what agility is – as definitions are essential – and what the workplace can look like, when it lives in agility, and watch challenges, you will face in bringing this into the workforce. Originally authored by1. Agility, defined as the ability...

Addressing the Intangibles: Overcoming Internal Blocks to Profitability

Being in the present (and not the past or future in your head) can be difficult, particularly in uncertain times. However, it has power and potency in all areas of decision-making and leadership.Originally authored by1. When you slow down, you become more efficient...

How Improv is Helping Banks Navigate the Challenges of the 2020s

With numerous challenges affecting the banking sector in 2024, banks need to get more creative to invest in new capabilities and regulators to ensure financial stability, competition, innovation, operational resilience, governance, and public confidence. Through...

6 Ways Employees Can Navigate Organisational Change

Avoiding a survival instinct in your staff during periods of change will help your organisation thrive under any new changes the organisation needs to make. This is often ignored, and is the focus of this article.Originally authored by1. Embrace a positive mindset 2....
Loading...
Verified by MonsterInsights