The Power of Positive Communication in Divorce Mediation: How to Keep the Dialogue Open and Productive
One of the key aspects that people learn when growing up is the importance of communication, and that continues to be even more important as everyone gets older. Communication is the most essential tool to help people understand the perspectives and motivations of one another. Therefore, communication in divorce mediation is vital.
Controlling Your Emotions
In any step of divorce, dealing with one’s emotions is one of the most common issues that may arise. In the realm of communication, having the ability to control one’s emotions during a stressful situation can be a helpful skill for a person to have amid divorce. In a divorce setting, the amount of stress for both spouses and the intensity of their feelings for their soon-to-be ex are higher than usual for both individuals.
Meetings between separating parties to discuss a path forward can trigger some intense emotions. The spouses can mentally prepare for any upcoming event or proceeding by planning certain meetups and legal reviews.
Planning a meeting with a former spouse will help both parties mentally prepare for being in the same physical space with that other person and for the subjects that will be discussed. Being mentally prepared for meeting a former spouse will help the parties approach the meeting with a clear mind. Thus, combined with conversations using precise and direct language, as discussed below, the discussions between the parties regarding the divorce proceedings can be more productive with this type of mental preparation.
It can also help to prepare for meetings that are about to occur in more socially relaxed situations, such as family gatherings. Processing emotions before meetings with former spouses and perhaps their relatives is especially important if the couple has any children that will be present during these gatherings.
Being Honest and Direct
While communication in divorce mediation or another divorce setting may be difficult at first glance, knowing what needs to be said will help expedite the process. Like all conversions, some people may have difficulty describing their needs. Being clear and direct communications about what each party wants in a divorce will help understand everyone’s intentions without confusion. It will also help show that the speaker has a well-thought-out plan of action. With the interests being clearly described, any potential misunderstandings can be avoided. This will help make proceedings smoother in a divorce case.
Another technique that helps promote a productive conversation is when one party listens to the other party speaking without interruption. By giving the former spouse undivided attention, the speaking spouse will feel that their concerns are being validated and heard. The feeling of validation will be further bolstered if the listener describes what the listener heard back to the speaker in as direct a manner as possible.
Lastly, being genuine, honest, and direct about one’s thoughts will help clarify your intentions when communicating with an estranged spouse and help reduce misunderstandings between both parties during the divorce. Thus, being truthful in a divorce can help create a sense of trust so that both parties may be more willing to cooperate to reach settlements.
Planning Out Your Message
When people communicate with each other today, the most common method is through text messaging services, emails, or social media platforms. While this may have the benefit of quick, direct access for friends and family, many people will post personal thoughts or responses without a second thought or review. Unfortunately, with these forms of communication in divorce mediation, the true tone and meaning of the message can get lost in translation.
This can potentially lead to misunderstandings by the receiver as to what is actually being said or what was intended by the sender. Any misinterpretation can lead the receiving spouse to question the sending spouse’s motivation or intentions, thereby putting them on the defensive. This, in turn, can lead to distrust and arguments, which can really derail a divorce proceeding by taking it from being peaceful to being a battle.
If one needs to communicate with a former spouse via text or email, the best course would be to be precise about the words being typed and to weigh them carefully to clearly and unemotionally convey your message before being sent. A well-planned and thought-out written message can help ensure that no unnecessary emotions are inflamed by any misunderstandings that may be created by a hastily drafted text or email.
Like the parents, the child is also navigating the emotional landmines that have been set up between the parties and is trying to avoid them at all costs. Being honest and treating the child like a person with their own thoughts and feelings will help create a sense of ease in the child’s mind.
It is essential to help a child maintain a healthy relationship with both parents by making them feel safe and secure in the presence of their parents individually and together. To avoid making the child a part of the collateral damage during divorce proceedings, parents should avoid potentially hostile emotional exchanges between them in the presence of the child.
When it comes to talking about or talking to a child during a divorce, it is essential to recognize how the parent or the child might feel about the words being used. Parents need to be careful not to make it feel like the child is being used as a bargaining chip in the divorce negotiations. A hastily stated comment can trigger intense emotions in a parent or a child. Using direct, thoughtful language and taking note of the child’s potential feelings will help keep the divorce proceeding focused and moving at a steady pace.
While children who are minors are a common focal point in a divorce, this concept can still apply to adult children. Even though adult children can understand some of the more mature concepts of divorce, they still face some of the same emotional challenges that an underage child would, such as torn loyalties or fracturing of their emotional foundation. As such, some of the same communication tactics mentioned above also apply here. No matter the age difference, awareness and consideration of the child’s feelings are essential if the goal of the proceedings is to benefit all the people involved in a divorce.
In conclusion, the issues that arise with communication in divorce mediation vary on a case-by-case basis. Clients can be so overwhelmed that they may have trouble planning what they need to say or may be unable to describe to their attorney or spouse the exact details of what they feel they need to live separately and apart from their soon-to-be ex-spouse. Often, the client’s emotions make such communication even more difficult. In addition, other factors like children can complicate aspects of these communications even more.
In the world of divorce, no matter what the issues are, knowing how to communicate best will help people better prepare for the necessary interactions that take place during divorce, which in turn can help the process move forward at a more productive and steadier pace.
So, just like when you were still a child, the key to navigating any relationship is healthy communication, and it is even more essential when dealing with a former spouse/partner during and after divorce proceedings.
Want to Know More?
If you are interested in a consultation to discuss the options available to resolve your divorce, custody issues, support, or equitable distribution issues, please contact me and I can help you investigate your options. Call me, Lenore M.J. Myers, at 215-470-3121 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.