The Late Speaker of the House during the 1960’s Sam Rayburn (D-Tx) was known as a taciturn person. It was unique for a politician to speak as sparingly as did Mr. Rayburn. When he was asked about this, the Speaker indicated that he had learned that “you learn more from listening than by speaking”. A good mediator listens a good deal more than he speaks. By listening to the parties, watching their body language, etc. a great deal can be learned about what a possible resolution of the dispute at hand might look like. Good listening skills lead to good, incisive questions. That in turn gets at the heart of the matter; what are the interests (not positions) of the parties to the dispute? This information can eventually lead to Win-Win.
A discussion on listening skills by the writer, Martin Rosenfeld, can be found in succinct form at this site: