This week we have been talking about divorce mediation and effective communication. While speaking clearly and controlling your emotions are both important factors in successfully communicating with your partner during mediation, it is important to understand that how you listen is just as vital as how you speak.

Shockingly, most people simply don’t listen, especially in conversations where conflict may be involved. Instead of hearing what the other person has to say, many people are already thinking about what they are going to say next. The result? Solutions are passed by and communication fails.

Are you ready to engage in active listening with your spouse during the divorce process? Here’s a few ideas that can help:

  • Take notes. One of the best ways to be sure of what someone is saying—and to remember exactly what they said—is to write it down. Taking notes also ensures that you aren’t getting lost in what you would like to say next.
  • Observe body language. Don’t just focus on the other person’s words, make eye contact and note their body language. The words they are using and what they actually mean to them could be two different things.
  • Don’t focus on your response. Many people stop listening in order to prepare their rebuttal—don’t make this common mistake! Take time to process what is being said before jumping to the next step of communicating your response.
  • Summarize what the other person has said. When you do start speaking, start with a summary of what the other person has said. Making sure that you correctly understood what was said is vital to moving forward toward a solution.

It is important that both you and your partner understand the basics of active listening as you enter your divorce mediation. Ask your mediator to review these tips if you believe it would help your process.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington
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