Account for Personal Differences
By: Cristin M. Lowe
“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”
– Anthony Robbins
A lot of times, clients have a misperception that they are right and the other side is wrong. His proposed visitation schedule is wrong and mine is right. Her desired exchange location is wrong and mine is right.
Although I’m a big believer in right and wrong, I also believe the world is gray. By that, I mean that two parents can both want something reasonable and still disagree. Who is to say that Johnny would do better on a week on/week off schedule or two weeks with Mom and two weeks with Dad? They’re both equal timeshares, after all. What is better, two one-week vacations or one two-week vacation? Should the kids be exchanged on Christmas Eve at midnight or 10 am Christmas Day? I could go on and on naming example after example about how reasonable minds can differ.
The take away here is to remember that just because it isn’t want you want doesn’t make it automatically wrong or bad. If you can acknowledge the other side’s position, you will get a lot further in mediation. That does not mean that you agree to it, only that you don’t automatically discount it. Not only will this lead to a more effective mediation session, but you will also impress your mediator with your ability to respectfully disagree with the other parent. Your ability to empathize with someone else’s opinion shows that you are able to empathize with your children.