Jim O’Connor set the stage for negotiation by focusing on the future rather than the past in his recent blog – https://bridgesdivorce.com/negotiating-with-your-partner/
Let’s carry that forward using the steps of a collaborative or mediation process.
High End Goals
We start with goals for the process and for yourselves. What matters most to you? Take some time. Do this in a quiet setting with a quiet mind if at all possible. To come back to your heart will be an important skill for this exercise.
- Why did you pick a peacemaking process? What are your goals for the process?
- What is it you want for your future relationship together?
- What do you want for the children? What is most important?
- What are your values about money? What are your priorities?
- How about personal and emotional goals? How do you want to feel, during the process and afterwards?
- What are your concerns about ongoing relationships with family, friends, work?
- What do you need for self-care? Balance of life?
- What does a positive future look like for you? How do you want to feel?
Negotiation Is Mindful Listening to Yourself and Others.
Negotiation is shared listening. That is, listening with attention and without judgment. Attention generates new, fresh thinking. Mindfulness deepens the quality of attention. This type of listening helps coherent intelligence unfold. So better ideas are the result.
We communicate with ourselves this way to unearth our dreams, wants, needs and what’s important to us. We express this to the other in an environment of mutual respect met with uninterrupted attention. This is the ideal. We can come close to it with intention, awareness and discipline. It’s not easy to do but will make the divorce easier and more fruitful. It’s a primary requirement of a peaceful process.
Practices of connecting with the heart, meditation and other activities that balance the nervous system assist in making this type of communication possible. Working with a divorce coach also helps build tolerance and gives practice in better communication to make negotiation at the table much more productive.
When options are proposed, it’s important to consider the interests and needs of the other person as well as your own. To do this takes courage and letting go. Relaxing into a process that is not intimidating is important. Flexibility to listen to and consider options you don’t think would work or don’t think you could agree to requires moving into our higher selves with dignity, patience and understanding. To listen and not react.
Making decisions requires a lot of the same skills. Know that everything decided upon will not be comfortable. Any combination of things that constitutes a settlement will require giving up something. How flexible are you or can you be to accept what is possible or the best possible scenario for your family? How strong have you made yourself through taking advantage of practices of the heart and other techniques that lead to acceptance. Acknowledging that you have done the best you can under the circumstances and accepting the result will make a smoother transition moving forward. It will be a continual practice of releasing and sharing control. How flexible are you or can you be? Longevity and happiness require flexibility, acceptance, forgiveness and letting go.
What does it take to commit to the result and work towards honoring your agreement with good faith, good nature and willingness to adjust to a new normal? How much can you forgive the past and look forward to a future of cooperation? These are all skills that can be practiced and mastered. It’s what makes a better life for us anyway. This is an opportunity to make life smoother for ourselves and others.