By Steven G. Mehta,

It is very common in mediation and negotiation for parties to want to vent their anger, frustration, or angst.  However, according to several participants who are on the listening end of such venting, there is only so much venting that they can take or accept without feeling like they have to say something in response.  This post discusses a few techniques to primarily be able to re-start the conversation from your perspective.

First, be careful to cut short a session when a person feels that they need to vent.  Sometimes, your perception of time is different than the other person’s.  Don’t simply judge the time to interrupt as being the one when the other person repeats themselves.  Sometimes, repeating a concept out loud is part of the process of venting and allows the person to digest their own feelings by expressing them again.  In fact, many times, the person’s own feelings may surprise himself or herself. In this situation, it is better to err on the side of allowing too much, rather than too little venting.

Second, if you feel like you have to interject a comment, be careful not to be defensive about your position.  Many people have the tendency to simply wait to present their position and come across as sounding defensive about their position, rather than actually wanting to hear the other perspective.

Third, when you do interject or interrupt, be careful in how you do it.  With some people, you may feel like that there is no right time, because they constantly have an uninterrupted flow of words that cannot be broken.  In those occasions, try the following as suggested by Linda Sapadin, Ph.D in the World of Psychology.  She provides 8 tips on how to interrupt.  Here are a few:


  1. Segue into another topic.

    “That’s some story. But now I’d like to talk about something more upbeat.”

  2. Be direct.

    “I need to interrupt you. I want to tell you what happened to me yesterday.”

  3. Use the person’s name (always an attention-getter), then redirect.

    “Jen, I get what you’re saying; it happened to me too.”

  4. Speak about your time situation.

    “Jared, I only have another minute to chat.”

These concepts. can be helpful in mediations or in negotiations.