The chair of MBBI—Canada, Suzanne Sherkin, has pointed out effective communication as a viable solution to mediation. A trained speaker and mediator, Suzanne believes that mediation and effective communication are interwoven; urging mediation practitioners, as well as aspiring mediators, to treat communication as an area worthy of critical analysis.
“Communication is at the core of everything that we do. To be a good mediator, you have to be a good communicator hands-down. You can be a competent mediator, but there is still a sixth sense that you will need, and that is a real understanding and practice of effective communication. Communication is that sixth sense that will help you become your best,” she said in an exclusive spotlight interview held on Wednesday, April 10, 2019.
Active listening, effective questioning, paraphrasing, or summarizing are key effective communication skills that foster mediation success, regardless of conflict contexts or dynamics. These, among many other effective communication skills, provide mediators with deeper insights into disputes. They also help mediators connect with parties, which is important to reaching a practical solution.
The desire to further explore this critical role of communication in every relationship is one reason why Suzanne dedicated her entire life to studying and understanding human behavior and communication: “I have always been curious about communication. I got really interested in understanding how people talk or interact with each other. That has been a major motivator for me.”
Suzanne joined MBBI in 2015 and has recently become the chair of MBBI—Canada. This new responsibility, she believes, increases her chances of helping the regional group reach its objectives.
She described her new role as an “exciting experience,” adding that she “stepped into this role because [she’s] really committed to MBBI’s mission.” MBBI is committed to building local skills for peace and promoting mediation worldwide.
Suzanne’s favorite part about being an MBBI member is being afforded the opportunity to support people to live harmoniously: “It’s really an honor to be invited into people’s lives; to be invited into their vulnerability; into their difficult, dangerous spaces and being offered a chance to support them. As a mediator, I value this a lot. I understand that mediating difficult emotions can be challenging sometimes. But when you recognize that people confide in you and share their most sensitive spaces with you, you will see how much of an honor this is.”
MBBI gives me such hope and optimism about the world, especially considering all the horrible things that are ongoing around the world. Recognizing that through MBBI, I have the possibility of actually being part of the solution to these [soaring] global issues is especially important to me. For me, it means I have a different relationship with the world.
Historically, MBB—Canada started as a “lovely, personal group” of individuals driven by their passion to selflessly serve humanity. Put otherwise, the group’s founding members, including Suzanne, were desirous of playing “impactful roles in the lives of others.” At the time, they had not designed any projects as an outward expression of their interest in joining MBBI per se. What mattered was the desire to develop a mediation community to connect with like-minded people who came from a single place of passion. And since they were (and still are) all volunteers, it means that the “passion and drive was authentic and had complete integrity,” Suzanne recalls. In sum, passion inspired these gallant peace advocates and activists to aspire for a more peaceable world by joining forces with a global family, MBBI.
Though MBBI—Canada is yet to roll out any projects, it is committed to designing projects that will benefit local Canadian communities. Currently, the Group is discussing the following thematic areas: LGBTQ community, indigenous community, and awareness around restorative justice process. Also, the Group is mapping members’ specific passion and expertise for a clear understanding of what people want to give to and get from MBBI—Canada.
Suzanne Sherkin leads Highborn Communications, a mediation practice she founded with the sole goal of helping communities communicate more effectively to reduce conflicts, increase productivity and be more collaborative. She specializes in Effective Communication, Conflict Management, Gender Awareness, and Mental Health in the Workplace.
An article by Fatoumata Bility, MBBI Writer.