Can we help improve separating couples' communication by "getting out of the way"?
Maybe not at first. After all, communication challenges are usually strong at the beginning of the separation process, with assumptions and judgments getting in the way of healthy dialogue. But when we do our best work, we help couples open pathways to communication, and then our role is to support THEIR communication.
How do we help to open those pathways?
As a divorce lawyer and mediator, I struggled for years trying to “get” clients to open up to dialogue when they were stuck in an entrenched pattern. It never worked when clients were defending themselves, their lived experience, their demands and their sense of (in)justice.
I began searching for a deeper way to understand what is going on when people are struggling with conflictual communication. My teacher appeared as the Insight Mediation founder, Dr. Cheryl Picard. I took Tuesdays off for all of 2017 and devoted myself to learning. (I was so lucky to have a spouse/partner who could support me to earn less so I could learn more.)
My own learning led me to wonder about how our clients can learn - at a time where they understandably tend towards tunnel vision. We can't just inspire them to look for the light?!? We have to be productive! I get it!
So I asked my favourite clients what would help them be more open and comfortable in working through their separation. They generously shared and I heard two things loud and clear:
- They thought I had great questions (YAY!) ....... but they said they often had far better (more insightful) answers after they left my office. Hmmmm.
- They wished they had been more prepared for the extra (deeper) work they had to do to get through the separation process in an emotionally healthy way. Hmmm x 2. They appreciated engaging with me on that level, but sometimes they were watching the clock $$$$.
So I set out to create an engaging client preparation workbook for my own clients and now the Our Family in Two Homes workbooks are being used around the world!
The Insight Approach to Conflict perfectly fits with what I was learning from my experience with clients and workbook: People have an inherent desire for self-discovery and we can harness that with engaging and relevant preparation tools that clients do on their own time, privately.
Then we can provide a higher level of service, as our clients engage more deeply in their own learning. (Come on, who doesn't like a good magazine quiz?!?)
With a better prepared client, we can focus on their unique needs and who they are. I find clients love it. They say it helps them be more grounded and hopeful. They discover things about themselves that we could never have taught.
Do you want to work in a way that prepares clients through self-discovery and learning? That helps them help themselves so you can focus on what they need from you?
Join us @ Our Family in Two Homes.