Walk a Mile in My Shoes
Some people may call it shifting paradigms, but in the Mediation profession we call it roll reversing. Here is an interesting article by Craig Lafargue about how in a dispute we can become entrenched in our positions, and that by reversing the respective roles a logjam can be broken. He goes on to say:
“I then asked them to continue the negotiation, but in their new roles as the other person. They told me I was nuts; I asked them to humor me, reminding them of the penalty and my fees. They agreed to try. At first, they were a bit stilted in their role play. However, after time they got into it, and arguing quite coherently and cogently their opponent’s view. After about 15 minutes, I asked them to stop and discuss what they had learned.
Each party felt a greater degree of understanding regarding the other’s position. They went beyond the “active listening” approach; indeed they became that person for a small period of time. And did quite well in assuming their “alter-ego.” I then asked them to resume their negations from their own self. And something remarkable occurred. The stalemate was broken, and the two parties moved into problem solving. There was still much to be discussed and developed. However, the emotional intransigence which prevented shared reality necessary to work jointly on a problem that affects both parties was now removed.”
Role reversing is a common technique that is used to train Mediators in Conflict Resolution, but as we see it can also be useful during an actual mediation.