“Exactly What to Say” A Book Review With Sylvia Mayer
What are some “magic words of mediation?” What words do you use to help parties think differently about their position or reflect on their opponent’s position a different way? Some months ago we did a podcast recording with Mediator Darcy Thompson, who explained how the incendiary word “liar” can make or break a mediation (video here: https://youtu.be/1oBCTk48lI4). But just as the utterance of an accusatory word like “liar” can cripple possibilities for parties to successfully reach settlement, some words can promote or encourage peacemaking and agreement.
We recently visited on the podcast the topic of important key words and phrases, that when used effectively in mediation, can make the difference between success and failure. On her recent subseries, “Bankruptcy Mediations with Bankruptcy Mediator & Attorney Sylvia Mayer,” Sylvia Mayer, of Smayerlaw.com, discussed some powerful words she uses that help her parties settle their disputes (video here: https://youtu.be/WMi2TRe3bro). Sylvia’s choice words of “but,” “if,” “imagine,” and “good news,” are explained as words that open up possibilities and opportunities in the art of persuasion. Her explanation of how these words impact the listener and help move a conversation toward peace are explained in her February 2022 article, “Magic Words of Persuasion” (https://www.smayerlaw.com/magic-words-of-persuasion/).
No buzz word or magic phrase offers a quick fix for parties in conflict. To the extent useful words exist, they can only be useful and effective by the neutral able to sophisticatedly wield them in the context of passionate debate and dialogue between opponents. In his book, Exactly What to Say, author Phil M Jones lists out 23 “magic” words or phrases that influence and impact people. Although written for the business world, and particularly to assist those in sales, the work is a classic in helping anyone lead others to agreement through the effective use of key words. Jones’ book influenced Sylvia Mayer and is a great read for all mediators and conflict resolution professionals. Find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Exactly-What-Say-Influence-Impact-ebook/dp/B073SF65ZZ