Divorce and Communicating Amidst Conflict
Parenting during divorce can feel overwhelming.
One reason for that: Communicating becomes a challenge.
There are ways to minimize the damage of divorce with careful, empowered, communication. As a divorce coach, I help you to understand your choices and equip you with the tools you need to move forward toward your bright future.
An Important Divorce Coaching Topic: Listening
Listening is a very simple, subtle act.
We listen naturally to the people we love, when things are going smoothly.
One of the most powerful statements that we can ever make is to say honestly,
“I hear you. I recognize what you’re going through.”
Listening involves being open to hearing not only the words the speaker is saying, but also to tone of voice, open to reading body language, and open to seeing the emotions being displayed. It is also important to be aware of what is not being said.
Consider also choice of words –how general or specific are they? Is my question being answered or avoided?
When we experience conflict we tend to feel misunderstood, hurt, disappointed, angry, resentful, betrayed or frustrated — or some combination of all of the above. Our guards go up, A door slams shut. We are so aware of our own reaction that it becomes very difficult to listen. We think we know what the other person is saying, and react to what we assume is meant.. At the same time, we are trying to get our own point across, and don’t understand why the other person can’t hear us.
One of the challenges and the opportunities in working with divorcing couples is that they know each other intimately, and have often been together – and perhaps in conflict – for a very long time. It can be especially frustrating because the very person who was once easy to listen to now seems to be speaking another language, and the message gets lost in translation. These conflicts are extremely personal and often are over the things that people care most deeply about — especially when there are children involved. What is more personal than your home life?
As a mediator or coach, I work hard to cultivate empathy and understanding. Although we may not be fully aware of it, we are all looking for recognition that we are not alone. We all want and need to be understood.
One of the most powerful things that I do as a mediator or divorce coach is to tell each participant: “I will listen closely, I will hear you.” This sends the message that each person’s thoughts and feelings are worthy of being heard, that their perspective is valid, that their experience of a situation is real. It helps them relax a bit so they can be more open to hearing the other person.
Sometimes it seems as though I can feel the air become a little more open, a little clearer.