Gefühlsmonster® cards in mediation – feedback from one of our customers

We recently received this wonderful feedback from a participant in one of our seminars regarding the use of the Gefühlsmonster cards in mediation:

Now that the year is coming to an end, I would like to use the opportunity to tell you about my experiences with the Gefühlsmonster® cards.

As part of my job I work as a mediator in the civil service, mainly with people who find themselves in a conflict with other colleagues or with a superior. Sometimes these could be two people, sometimes groups and teams who would then contact me as a mediator or conflict moderator.

I would usually start off with an individual session with each of the parties and only then I would arrange for a joint appointment with all those involved. Like this, all parties already know me which makes it easier for them to be open to something new. By now, I have been using the Gefühlsmonster® cards several times in the beginning of an initial joint session and I think they are great! (Two questions: “How do you feel right at this moment with regard to the conflict and how do you think Mr/Mrs XY feels right now with regard to the conflict?”)

To start with, there is this wonderful sense of peace and quiet when the parties begin to curiously leaf through the cards – as a mediator I very much enjoy this moment of quiet reflection because it allows me to gather my thoughts (I, too, still feel a nervous excitement every time at this stage) and the parties are forced to muster the required concentration and “join in”. Clients rarely ever remain totally unmoved when looking through the cards. They would smile to themselves, laugh, mutter something or start talking to themselves – and I would stay in the background and listen. These very human reactions introduce a certain lightness to the beginning of the session where we would otherwise deal with rather heavy issues.

When each of the parties then puts their cards face up on the table and explains what the different cards mean to him/her, you can feel 100% concentration on both sides. After all, the opposing party is very curious to hear what the other feels/means. And often they would even choose identical cards. What a great basis for new experiences – hang on, we do have something in common?!

The other day I had a superior who, with the cards on the table, very openly and straight out told one of her team members: „I didn’t know that you would be able to assess me so well, that’s great!“ –this spontaneous positive remark prepared the ground for more openness and the willingness to listen during the mediation process.

Even when the cards are put aside and we start talking about the issues of conflict it is my experience that the parties like to point to the table and refer back to a certain card from the beginning and to use it as an anchor, to emphasise something or they would select a different card from the deck to show how they felt in a certain situation. When I later send participants the minutes of our meeting, with photo documentation or the written agreement, I would often take one or two photos of cards that had something to do with the process for the front page (with citation of source 🙂). This gives the whole thing a lighter note and helps the parties remember the process.

I would also sometimes use the cards during follow-up meetings in the mediation process – I would then start with the question: ”Thinking about the weeks since we last talked, how do you feel today with regard to the conflict?” And the second question: “And how do you think Mr/Mrs XY feels since we last talked?“. At that stage, the parties already know the cards and they find it even easier to use them and can also more quickly get to the specifics.

All in all, the cards are a great tool for resolving conflict in the workplace – especially when there are hierarchies involved – but of course you already know that 🙂. I just wanted to say a big THANKS for these cards …“