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"Do YOU think this is OK?!"

Your patient or a family member may complain about an issue, and asks you this question. You may think this is harmless (and it may be), but this is not always the case. They may ask this question looking for agreement ("I'm not the only one thinking this"), validation ("Yes, I am right"), or simply out of curiosity.

But how you respond can determine their future actions. For a conflict mediator, this is 'a trap question'. Because if you provide a yes/ no answer, you have lost your neutrality, and you took a side. And the person who asks this question may find in you an ally, or an enemy. Plus, they will hold YOU accountable for what happens next.

One way to answer this question without putting gas on fire is through redirection: "Let's talk about this issue - can you tell me more about this?" or, "I can see how this issue is important to you" or "I understand that this affects you". If they insist, you can always say "I am not sure my opinion is relevant, but I am interested in seeing how I can help you with this issue". Remember that taking a side (even if you agree with the person) is not helpful in conflict mediation. Cultivate a neutral stance: this is what brings balance.

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