If there is one secret to share with the world regarding the handling of conflict situations and relationships, that is that words and tone of voice can mitigate most issues. It’s the way people communicate with each other that is at the heart of resolution. Arguing never works; it ends up in a verbal tug of war. Being demanding just turns people off. If people want to be heard, to have some hope of resolving a conflict, being nice, choosing words that don’t blame the listener, and asking for a cooperative solution, works wonders.
Courteous communication is the key in coming to a compromise in a divorce mediation. Yelling, crying, being arrogant, manipulation and lying services no one. The mediator can’t help unless both parties are cooperative and honest, respectful, and come with an open mind to work towards decisions that reflect their new reality. In providing one side of a story, only share your thinking; do not speak for the other person. They will speak for themselves. When each party simply shares their thinking and their view of the future, the mediator can help with brainstorming that takes into account the viewpoints and goals of each party.
In other real life interchanges, like a conversation with a customer service agent, approach the person in a conciliatory way. Do not lead with anger, demanding justice. Open with a pleasantry, ask for their help, and explain what happened and what you would like from them in a soft tone of voice, as if you are talking to a friend. Being nice is always right. Many customer service people are there to service customers., and generally want to help. But no one wants to help mean people.
Speaking up for yourself does not infer blaming the other person. Speaking up for yourself is a learned skill of diplomacy. Speaking up while keeping the other person involved in listening, problem-solving, empathetically to your cause takes practice. We don’t learn communication skills in school, nor from most parents. We learn from experience that approaching people in a calm, respectful way is the way to move the discussion forward.
Being nice, though, does not mean being a pushover. You can be nice, and still stay on topic with your concerns and with what you’re asking of the other person. Being nice allows for a better conversation in which the other person can be involved in problem-solving with you. That’s the goal: Mutual Problem-Solving.
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