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of a Successful Mediation Strategy
How to Use Repetition as Part of a Successful Mediation Strategy
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How to Use Repetition as Part
of a Successful Mediation Strategy

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We’re not all quick studies. During a mediation session you may need to give the same message several times, in different ways, for a party to accept what you’re saying. Research in advertising shows that you normally need to be exposed to a product at least seven times before you would consider buying it.

In a mediation you frequently need to convince parties (and sometimes their attorneys) to consider ideas and approaches that are not only different but the opposite of what they want to believe. Like teaching a new math formula or how to shoot a basketball, saying something just once or twice probably won’t do the trick. You have to repeat the information and advice a number of times but in different ways so it will be effective.

Persuasive techniques in written and spoken forms have been developed over millennia to influence others. Whether you’re a parent trying to convince your child to eat vegetables or you’re a multi-national corporate CEO trying to convince another CEO to sell or merge a business, persuasion is persuasion just the people involved and the goals change. That ability to educate and convince others in a mediation is key to being successful.

Repetition can be a way to improve the chances of being persuasive but it’s not without potential pitfalls, according to an article in the Houston Chronicle. The results of psychological studies suggest repetition can positively impact one’s willingness to be receptive of and agreement to a persuasive argument.

1. Low to moderate levels of repetition within a message creates a better chance of agreement with the message as well as better recall.

2. Repeating too often will likely have a negative impact and can lead to stronger disagreement with the statement being made.

Moderate repetition can be more effective if it’s spread out over time.

1. Repetition during a long course of an argument or presentation can result in greater familiarity with the message which can lead to a gradual agreement if the repetition is evenly paced.

2. Repeating yourself too often in a short time span often won’t result in acceptance but may create stronger resistance to the argument.

Another way to make your repetition more effective is to do it with some emotion. The use of key emotionally charged phrases can be more effective than a matter of fact, dispassionate approach.

On the opposite end of the spectrum subtlety may also be helpful. Don’t repeat the same words and phrasing over and over, find different ways to say the same thing. Being “hit over the head” repeatedly with the same language could make the other party tune out.

Try to make your argument or statement interactive. If you can phrase it in a way to show the opposing party that he or she will also benefit from your position, try to get an active agreement from the person or maybe the person will repeat the message you’re trying to send.

Mediation is all about persuasion and with the right amount of repetition, done in an effective way, could help your client get the best agreement possible.

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Steve Mehta
Steve Mehta
Steve Mehta has been frequently asked to mediate cases that involve a variety of complex and emotional issues, including elder abuse, medical malpractice, real estate, personal injury, employment, probate, and business matters. Since 1999, he has mediated several thousand cases.

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