Divorce mediation can be faster, more private, and significantly less expensive than a court divorce. However, this is only the case if both you and your partner are ready to communicate openly, honestly, and effectively. Divorce mediation simply doesn’t work if you and your spouse don’t know how to talk to each other and listen to each other. Below, we’ve shared a few vital tips for effective communication during divorce mediation:
- Avoid blaming or judging. Before your divorce, there was probably a lot of blaming and judging during conflicts with your spouse. It is time to put all of that behind you. Try to avoid “you” statements and instead focus on “I” statements—this is not the time to make the other person feel bad or to make you feel better.
- Engage in active listening. In heated arguments, it is easy to stop listening. But in mediation, listening is key to finding a compromise and a solution. Instead of focusing on what you will say next, focus on what your partner is saying. When they are done, summarize what they have said before speaking yourself.
- Pay attention to your emotions. Mediation is a time to divide your property and make decisions about how your lives will proceed after divorce. It is not a time to feel anger, guilt, sadness, or fear. Even though having a lot of strong emotions is absolutely normal when going through a divorce, try to focus on the facts—not your feelings—during the mediation process.
- Be aware of your non-verbal communication. What is your body language saying to the others in the room? Are your arms and legs crossed? Are you making eye contact? Are you mumbling or raising your voice? Your partner may be reacting to your non-verbal communication more than your actual words.
- Take advantage of your mediator. Many divorcing spouses struggle to communicate well with each other, and that is where your mediator comes in. Don’t be afraid to let him or her help you find the solutions you are looking for.
Remember: establishing good communication during divorce mediation can help lay a foundation for a healthy non-romantic relationship after divorce. This is especially important for couples who have joint custody of children.