divorce and family mediation in nyc

jennifer safian, divorce mediator

212-472-8626    info@safianmediation.com

The Communication Effect of Mediation

{3:54 minutes to read} Couples coming to resolve their divorce through mediation are often not on the same page. The Communication Effect of Mediation by Jennifer SafianOne person can be more advanced in the process, thinking about getting divorced for a long time, while the other person is barely able to accept the idea of a separation, let alone think about the “D word.” Or it may be that, because of very different personalities and styles of communication, the parties are unable to have a calm and productive conversation.

The process can only go as fast as the slowest party.

A couple of years ago, Eileen and Mark came in for mediation. Eileen was far more talkative than her husband. Mark listened. He wasn’t angry, but he was withdrawn and would mostly react with nods or a one-word sentence. That appeared to be their usual mode of communication.

Eileen had initiated the idea of a divorce. Mark kind of went along with her request, but emotionally he was not there yet. Between his resistance to the divorce and his difficulty expressing himself, it was difficult to get the process moving forward.

Periodically, I would have to ask Mark what he thought of Eileen’s suggestions, as his passivity was not allowing him to fully participate in the discussion. All of a sudden, at the end of the 3rd session, Mark surprised me by voicing a strong opinion on a particular issue on which he disagreed. I was happy to see him getting more involved in the dialogue. There was now more of a balance between them, and I saw this as a potential shift in the way they related to each other.

1 step forward and 2 steps back.

However, after that session, I did not hear from them again. I knew that one had moved out and that they had agreed to a 50/50 parenting schedule in mediation, but they left many other issues unresolved.

Moving forward.

Two years later, Eileen called to say they were ready to finish their agreement and wanted to schedule a meeting. I saw them another three times. Some decisions were re-discussed, some tweaked, and some new ones were made as they completed the agreement.

I observed that they seemed able to communicate more easily and on an equal footing rather than one talking and the other “reacting.”

At the end of our last meeting, they both thanked me and said, “Since we started seeing you, we have actually been communicating much better, and we want to tell you that the mediation helped us enormously with that. Even our children commented on it!

So don’t despair! Even post divorce, mediation can continue to have a positive impact on your ability to communicate with your former spouse for the benefit of the family.

Comments from Social Media

This isn’t just a nice incidental benefit, but sometimes a main purpose of mediation! Best example: divorcing parents of small children, who need to develop good communication practices for dealing with their children’s needs over the following decade or more.  

(John Norval Settle mediator trainer consultant on workplace conflict on Linkedin)

My New York colleague, Jennifer Safian and I share similar experiences. It is interesting how our work can span months to years, although only a few sessions. 

(Gary Direnfeld on Linkedin)

Jennifer Safian

jennifer safian. divorce and family mediator
divorce and family mediation
upper east side of manhattan (nyc)
new york, ny
(212) 472-8626
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