Communication Tools for Collaborative Divorce

Learning to communicate during divorce will have long term benefit for your children and your family relationships.

by Tina Mears, LMFT

Learning to communicate efficiently and effectively is a progression in skills, just like learning a golf swing or entertaining for 50 people. There are many moving parts and it changes depending on who is in front of you. As you go through Collaborative Divorce, communication is a key component to its success.   Yet, it is extremely difficult to achieve because of the newness of the situation and the high emotions that

Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego with divorce solutions. Call 858-472-4022

Tina Mears, LMFT

come with the experience.

It is possible to achieve peaceful, consistent and purposeful communication with your former partner. It all begins with your mindset. Think about communication as having the highest purpose: your child’s well-being. The Collaborative Process is not about winning or losing, as we often see in litigation. It is about coming together, being supported by a team and communicating through each decision. The following are tools to practice as you take the necessary steps in restructuring your family.

  1. Curiosity – How often do we make an assumption and go in for the attack before really understanding the whole situation? It is extremely important to remain curious in gathering information before making decisions.   We can do this by asking questions, being a good listener and challenging ourselves to think in ways that we aren’t used to.
  2. Triggers – Let’s face it, we get triggered. When we aren’t paying attention and “have our buttons out” others will find ways to push them. Learning how to be more mindful and keeping your buttons in will help in more peaceful communication. It’s also knowing what your triggers are so that you can see them coming and prepare yourself with a response that will de-escalate the moment.
  3. Body Language –Our body language can really set the tone of a conversation. Our thoughts, intentions and feelings are expressed by physical behaviors, which could either help or hurt the forward movement of the process. Good eye contact and a relaxed body position can signal that you are willing to work through an issue.
  4. Listening – We can “say” a lot by not saying anything at all. Active listening is a very effective first response when working through a difficult topic. Collaborative Divorce takes a certain amount of trust and sometimes a person just needs to be heard and acknowledged before willing to consider an alternative or soften their position.
  5. Solution-Focused – Most of the language through this process is about finding solutions and keeping the process moving. Learning to communicate with resolutions in mind will help in avoiding getting stuck. This takes practice in compartmentalizing what’s painful and keeping the health and well-being of your children and yourself in mind.

The ingredients for a successful communication between you and your former partner for the sake of your children are reasonable and fairly simple to explain. They are, however, extremely difficult to achieve. With the help of your divorce coach and the other professionals involved, you can reach mutually satisfying goals that will pave the way for a new start and happy future for everyone.

If you would like to learn more about Collaborative Divorce, the members of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego are here to help you. Contact us at 858-472-4022 or email us at sandiegodivorceoptions@gmail.com

 

 

Realistic Expectations in Divorce: Do Leopards Ever Really Change Their Spots?

leopards-don-t-change-their-spots_things-wish-id-always-known-menby Shawn D. Skillin, Esq.
Collaborative Attorney and Mediator

As a mediator, I met with a Mediation couple today. I like both of them very much. We
are the same ages, have similar interests and if I wasn’t their divorce mediator, I could be friends with each of them. But what struck me again today, was how divorcing spouses treat each other and annoy each other, and yet at the same time they find this surprising and frustrating.
Shawn Skillin

You are getting divorced. There are multiple reasons why you are getting divorced. Many of them boil down to that fact that you each have a different perspective on various issues. One of you likes the house neat and tidy, the other leaves dirty socks and wet towels on the floor. One of you is fussy about the budget, the other just wants to know if the ATM card works. You each have a different set of expectations for the children and approach discipline in different ways. You both have frustrations, disappointments and hurt feelings. You have argued over these issues many times, you can recite each others point of view word for word. You have stopped even pretending to listen.

Yet when one of you decides to file for divorce there is often an expectation that somehow this will change. The other person will now see your point, change their perspective, after all you must have gotten their full and undivided attention now! Right? Mmmm … not so fast.

In divorce, your individual perspectives don’t magically change. You still see things differently from each other. These differences continue to annoy and frustrate you. Yet, both parties often continue to treat each other in the same way and expect a different outcome. These communication styles didn’t work during the marriage, they aren’t going to work during the divorce. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

This is why I love Mediation and Collaborative Divorce. In Mediation, the Mediator is a neutral third party who helps interpret and re-frame what is being said. The Mediator can put a different spin on the issue, help you both see it in a different way, or at least point out that this isn’t unusual that you each see it differently. The fact that you do, doesn’t make either of you right or wrong, good or bad, just different.

In Collaborative Divorce, there is a Coach, or two, and two attorneys who help each party take a step back and take a fresh look at old issues. Perhaps, even learn a new way of presenting information and proposals to each other. They help you see what you do have in common and how, even with your differences, you can resolve issues, co-parent and work together.

Both Mediation and Collaborative Divorce keep you focused on the present and the future; the past can’t be changed.   How you got here is not nearly as important as where you choose to go now and in the future. In the best Mediated and Collaborative Divorces the parties learn new communication tools that can help them resolve their issues and move forward with hope.