Negotiation 101

On January 5, 2021

During my family mediation practicum, I had the rare opportunity to learn from an exceptionally skilled mediator named Christine Kim. These tactics made a significant impression on me and have been very useful to my clients because they give people who are feeling lost a way forward.

I encourage you to use the following tips before you begin any settlement discussions with your spouse. You may be less inclined to do the deep work outlined in my blogs about empathy and powerlessness, or perhaps you have tried these efforts and now it’s time to push through a mediation process that is becoming unproductive. This is your chance to really make the change you want to make in life, but you’ll need all of the strength you can summon to make it happen.

To make the best use of these reflective exercises, it’s important to think about them before the first negotiation attempt or if the first conversation ends with little or no agreement. This is key because there will not be enough time to think about them carefully during a joint mediation session.

Tip #1: Ask yourself what they need, so you can get what you want

This is a great question because it allows you to focus on your main goal during a mediated conversation. It will also help you determine in advance what you are willing to concede – if anything. Minor agreements and the potential for new trust in a co-parenting situation could emerge from asking yourself this simple question.

Tip #2: Negotiate with who is in front of you, not with you want them to be

This one can be considerably harder to put into practice, especially if we are negotiating with our former spouse. During your marriage, you may have spent a lot of energy trying to change the other person. This healthy tip involves first acknowledging that the person you’re talking to is likely not going to change very much or express their needs differently (read more about acknowledgement). If they are prone to interrupting, or need to take breaks to relieve the pressure, anticipating these behaviours and allowing them to happen can benefit you and the conversation in the long run.

You may not realize it at first, but by not needing your spouse to be different from who they are, you’re giving them a gift that many people would appreciate. However, it requires us to bear witness to our own emotions and to feel our discomfort or burning in order to move forward.

Whether these two pre-negotiation exercises are used separately or as part of a larger insight-building conversation, they allow for the enormous potential to shift a conversation in a mutually beneficial way. 

Negotiating During a Separation Mediation

Negotiating with your spouse during a divorce mediation can be a painful and frustrating process. It can also lead to a positive conversation based on mutual respect and a shared love for your children’s well-being. For more conflict resolution tips and advice, check out my blog for future updates or contact me today for more information about my mediation services in Toronto.

Richard Brydson

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