Curious mind. Cpen mind. Responsive mind. All three advance your divorce settlement conversations.
Invariably there are points in divorce settlement discussions where your spouse makes a proposal that you just can’t swallow. Your immediate negative reaction suggests that the proposal was never seriously considered. It’s easy to shoot down a proposal without full evaluation. Before you automatically reject your spouse’s proposal, cultivate your curious mind.
what makes your spouse think the proposal is good for you?
how is it a fair proposal for both spouses?
are there ways to tweak it to better meet both spouses’ needs and interests?
Have a conversation. By asking good questions, you both will think about the proposal more deeply. Perhaps through more brainstorming, ideas and options will come up that meet each of your objectives better. By having a conversation, the original germ of an idea may grow into an option that works for both of you.
Being curious and showing an open mind may create more options for the two of you. A reactive “No!” shuts the door and cuts off the conversation. Curious questions can open the door to more opportunity.
Lela Love, an accomplished Professor of Law at Cardozo School of Law, Director, Kukin Program for Conflict Resolution and the Cardozo Mediation Clinic, spoke on the challenges for dispute resolution providers in 2010 and beyond.
Humor can make a powerful point! Professor Love demonstrated this by telling a pointed joke which cleverly sums up the difference between litigation, arbitration and mediation….it went something like this:
• How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: How many can you afford?
• How many judges does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: They do not change light bulbs, they tell you who is responsible for the darkness.
• How many arbitrators does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Same as judges, but you cannot appeal.
• How many mediators does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Mediators do not change light bulbs either; they help the light bulbs change themselves!
Last Thursday I had the opportunity to hear Gloria Steinem, author and activist, famous for the Women’s Liberation Movement, speak at a fundraising luncheon for the YWCA. She spoke in part about how empowerment starts with the least powerful. She then gave her ideas about what the world would be like if the YWCA ran it……imagine…..differences would be celebrated rather than being regarded as negatives; hierarchal systems would be replaced with more humane systems and ultimately we would return to our instinctual nature to help each other rather than to compete with each other.
I wonder……what would happen if all divorce and family law matters went straight to facilitated, interest based mediation rather than to the courthouse, our hierarchal traditional approach which often exploits people, focuses on differences, is power based valuing win/lose, control and superiority and pits on family member against the other. Mediation allows and encourages people to work together, to show natural empathy for each other and to find common ground and the best alternative for all. What would happen if people getting divorced were guided to their natural instinct to have empathy and work for the benefit of all rather than being led to battle………..Let me guess:
·Parents and children would feel better and smile sooner….
·Agreements would be more durable……..
·The process would be less painful and more empowering………that’s what would happen!
I am sure the list could go on and on …..what do you think? We would like to know.
I could not be happier that I attended because it gave me an opportunity to brush up on and learn new skills, to reconnect with colleagues and friends and to put new skills in my toolbox. Three inspiring workshop presenters were:
Ken Cloke , dedicated and prominent mediator, trainer and consultant , and founder of Mediators Beyond Borders spoke about how to conduct dialogue sessions that shift people from power to interest based resolution and lead to more authentic interactions, mutual understandings and ultimately enhanced relationships.
David Hoffman, founder of Boston Law Collaborative, committed and skillful mediator and collaborative attorney presented on the art of caucusing and how timely and competent caucusing can expand trust and open doors that may offer opportunities for dispute resolutions that the parties were not willing to consider without the mediator “bonding” that can occur in caucus.
Nina Meierding, a national leader in the field of mediation, spoke brilliantly about the art of communicating across cultures, including how different cultures express needs, deal with uncertainty, and perceive, structure and react to time. I have seen Nina present for over 15 years and her material is always informative, fresh and useful.
One thing I can say about all three of these presenters is that they make going to the ABA DR Section conference worthwhile………………..I am deeply grateful for their willingness to keep our mediation tool boxes up to date!