The Moccasins stage of the VOMP (Ventilation, Ownership, Moccasins, Plan) model for conflict resolution comes from the old phrase “walk a mile in the other person’s moccasins.” In this step, both parties should express their understanding of and empathy for the other person’s experience and point-of-view.
Keep in mind that understanding doesn’t necessarily mean agreement. You might think, “I can understand what you’re saying even if I don’t agree”. And, empathy does not equal sympathy. Your thought can be, “I can feel what you must be feeling without getting emotional”.
This step simply lets the other person know that you better understand the situation as she sees it, a) given what she told you in the Ventilation step, and b) given what she has decided to own.
In the Moccasins stage, you express the other person’s feelings, and they express yours.
Here are a few guidelines to help you navigate the Moccasins stage of VOMP:
- Imagine you’re the other person: What would you think and feel, need and want, if you were in her shoes?
- Avoid “mixing” your experience with your colleague’s experiences: Keep your focus on the other party and off of yourself.
- Paraphrase and summarize the words she shares: Once again, paraphrasing promotes understand, and an essential step to be sure you have truly heard the other person.