When I mediate with you, I suggest you follow five basic tips which help you benefit fully from the mediation process.
1. Leave fault and blame out of the discussions.
Why? This is because people generally have a negative reaction to any allegations of fault or blame. They feel the need to justify their behaviour and this can lead to counter allegations and you then fall into the trap of good -v- bad, right -v- wrong.
Why waste energy trying to justify your position, we recommend you instead take a step back and look at the big picture. You have probably agreed you want to separate or agree you cannot live together harmoniously, so what are you trying to achieve?
2. Co-operate and work together to resolve issues.
There is the old adage “there is no I in team” and this applies to any negotiations. You will be aware that when you smile at someone, they usually smile back. In the mediation context, if you offer something to the other party, they are more likely to offer something in return. When you only consider the impact decisions have for you, you are unlikely to be able to reach resolutions.
Consider the needs of the other person.
Listen to what the other person is saying and sometimes not saying.
Try and walk in their shoes, put yourself in their position and consider what might benefit them.
You will be amazed how this approach can often help you achieve what you want out of the negotiations.
3. Speak to each other as you would wish to be spoken to.
Mediation takes place in a safe confidential environment.
You may have fallen into a habit of communicating badly with each other, resulting from the hurt and emotional upheaval following your relationship breakdown. Do your best to speak to each other as you would to any other person you wanted to negotiate a deal with.
Consider how you would speak to a car salesman if you were seeking a discount or his co-operation to add bonuses to your purchase – you wouldn’t insult him or be aggressive towards them.
When you are in mediation the situation is the same. You are trying to negotiate a deal and you need to put aside your own feelings about the other person.
4. Be respectful and allow each other to speak without interruption.
It is common knowledge that in most conversations people are thinking more about what they are going to say next, rather than listening intently to what is being said. This means that people often blurt out what they believe is the important thing to say rather than actively listening and then responding appropriately. If you have something important to say, you will be given time when you will be able to speak.
Everyone has two ears and one mouth. Use each of them proportionately.
5. Consider how your outcome will impact on each of you and your family.
You and your ex are not the only ones who will be hurt or affected by your relationship breakdown. Your children, your parents and extended family will all be affected like the ripples in a pond following a pebble being thrown in. This can manifest itself where a child no longer has contact with one half of his extended family without comprehending why this had to happen.
Where children are involved it may be very hard for them to understand why they can no longer see extended family members connected to one parent.
As a parent you are a role model for your child and it is important that they can understand that conflict can arise, but that it can be dealt with in a respectful and calm manner rather than remaining bitter and hostile which helps nobody.