Skip to content

Formulation Sequences in Mediation: How Paraphrasing Works in Dispute Resolution

500 Hall of Languages

Add to: Outlook, ICal, Google Calendar

Considered one of the fundamental skills of active listening, paraphrasing (also called the "speaker-listener technique") is supposed to demonstrate understanding, give the other person a chance to reflect on what s/he is saying, and slow down the urge of adversaries to argue back or shift focus away from that person’s concerns. Yet some say the speaker-listener technique is overrated or can be overused. How does paraphrasing really work? Conversation analytic research shows how formulations (one speaker putting into words either the essence or the implication of what has been said) operate across a range of institutional interactions. In a collection of instances from the early, storytelling phase of a real-life mediation session, the mediator's formulations further sequences of talk that preserve and transform elements of the participants' stated perspectives. Along the way, through formulations the mediator establishes and maintains neutrality and helps "prepare" the perspectives of the disputing parties for possible resolution. Examination of actual formulation sequences invites consideration

Open to




Contact to request accommodations

Exterior of Maxwell in black and white when there was no Eggers building

We’re Turning 100!

To mark our centennial in the fall of 2024, the Maxwell School will hold special events and engagement opportunities to celebrate the many ways—across disciplines and borders—our community ever strives to, as the Oath says, “transmit this city not only not less, but greater, better and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.”

Throughout the year leading up to the centennial, engagement opportunities will be held for our diverse, highly accomplished community that now boasts more than 38,500 alumni across the globe.