Strategies for Divorce Conflict Resolution
by Kim Johnson
The legal process in a divorce decides family law issues. However, it does not reduce or eliminate family tensions and divorce doesn’t end family dynamics. If there are children, there are graduations, weddings, grandchildren, funerals and many other events that will continue to occur. So, if relationships are going to continue, the burden of doing it peacefully will be on you and your ex.
Learning and practicing good conflict resolution techniques are important. Below are some strategies to help you navigate this journey to peaceful interactions.
- Attitude is everything. How you approach the discussion or conflict will have a huge impact on outcomes.
- When angry, separate yourself from the situation and take time to cool off.
- Attack the problem, not the person. Work to separate your emotions about your ex and focus on the specific issue.
- Communicate your feelings assertively, NOT aggressively. Express them without
blaming. “I” statements help in keeping the other person from being defensive.
- Focus on the issue, NOT your position about the issue. Stay on point.
- Accept and respect that individual opinions may differ, don’t try to force compliance,
work to develop common agreement.
- Do not view the situation as a competition, where there has to be a winner and loser. Work toward a solution where both parties can have some of their needs met.
- Focus on areas of common ground and agreement, instead of areas of
disagreement and opposition.
- NEVER jump to conclusions or make assumptions about what another is feeling or
thinking. Perceptions can be wrong. Take time to ask questions.
- Listen without interrupting; repeat statements to make sure there is a clear understanding of what you are hearing. Listen first to understand and second to evaluate what is being communicated.
- When only one person’s needs are satisfied in a conflict, it usually means there is no clear resolution and the conflict will continue. Be open to compromise. Share your desires and work out a solution agreeable to both.
- Forget the past and stay in the present. Promote peace, but not to the point of giving away everything.
- Try to understand your ex by looking at the dynamics of their family of origin. Many times, we carry what we learned as children into our adult relationships. This can give clarity to why someone responds as they do.
- Acknowledge when the other person has been reasonable in the discussion. Thank the person for listening.
Conflict resolution is a skill that may require some practice. Don’t expect perfection when you first try. Continue to temper your expectations and minimize your perceptions by being open. Keep the end goal in mind – making the process as peaceful as possible while maintaining your integrity.