One of the most powerful communication tools you can use in your family mediation sessions is active listening. Active listening in family mediation helps to establish empathy, builds trust between the parties and validates emotions.

As a family mediator in Perth, I’ve seen it all when it comes to communication styles. Some people are open and willing to negotiate their settlement terms, whereas others dig in their heels from their first interaction with the mediation process.

I strongly recommend active listening in family mediation – it’s one of the best ways to reach an amicable agreement with your ex that really is fair and equitable.

Here’s how employing the technique of active listening in family mediation can help you move on with your life.

How Active Listening in Family Mediation Can Help You

Prepare For Your Mediation Session

Being fully prepared lays the foundations for a less stressful family mediation process and increases your chances of reaching a fair outcome. That means being mentally, emotionally and legally prepared. A good starting point is to have a clear vision of what you hope to achieve; but be prepared to compromise along the way.

Having all the necessary documents and information with you will enable you to explain issues the mediator or your ex may ask and will help you to present your side of the case with confidence. This allows you to focus on actively listening to your ex, instead of feeling flustered if you are unprepared for points that may be raised or questions asked.

Should you feel that your emotions may cloud the mediation process, you can request that a relative or close friend, or even your lawyer, be present for the mediation sessions to provide you with support and help you remain calm and collected.

Validate Their Emotions

Active listening is crucial in helping you to fully understand what the other person is saying, making it easier for you respond in an appropriate manner.

Careful listening may enable you to pick up any underlying issues your ex may have or assist in identifying possible common grounds, paving the way to finding workable solutions.

Remember that your ex is likely to be feeling just as anxious as you are. By acknowledging and validating their emotions – even if you don’t agree with them – may encourage them to reciprocate and make the process less stressful.

Do Not Interrupt

There is nothing more frustrating than trying to engage with a person who keeps interrupting and not allowing you to put your point across. Listen carefully to every word your family mediator and your ex says and let them finish what they want to say, so you fully hear their point of view, before you respond.

Listen not only with your ears but with your eyes and all your senses too.  Look out for tell-tale body language signs, like tone of voice, facial expressions, hand gestures or head shakes – they too speak volumes without uttering a word. Pay attention to your own body language too as this will also send clear communication signals to the mediator and your ex.

Respect Their Experience

Another way to use active listening is to respect the experience of your ex. How they view situations and potential outcomes may be completely different to you – and that’s OK. It’s not about being right or wrong – it’s about how you and your ex personally feel about your experiences.

Their experience throughout the divorce process may be totally at odds with yours. But that’s OK – as long as you can work together to understand where the other is coming from to work towards a mutually agreeable outcome.

Showing respect to the other party’s experiences and emotions is likely to make them feel heard and encourage them to respond in a similar manner, reducing potential tensions and paving the road to amicable settlement terms.

Clarify & Paraphrase Their Statements

It is crucial to fully understand what the other side or the mediator has said before responding.

If you’re not one hundred percent clear on any point being made, attempt to clarify it by stating clearly your understanding of what has been said. You can do this by repeating what you think you have heard and summarising your understanding of statements or proposals.

Be as clear as you are able in your statements in order to reduce any possible misunderstandings.

Answer Empathetically

Active listening will ensure that you’re absolutely clear what the other side is saying; and it is imperative that you try to respond empathetically in order to promote trust, respect and co-operation.

Show empathy and willingness to accommodate proposals. You can then suggest and pursue solutions that will be fair to you both and, where relevant, for your children.

Be Flexible & Negotiate A Solution

By the time you commence family mediation you may already have had some discussions with your ex and have reached agreement on some of the issues to be settled.

You may have a reasonable idea of issues you are likely to agree on and what may be problematic. Dealing first and agreeing on minor issues may reduce tension and help everyone to relax.

A successful family dispute resolution process is one that concludes with all parties feeling they have come away with an agreement they can comfortably live with.

Be flexible and be prepared to negotiate and seek to find solutions that work best for both you and your ex. It’s not always possible to achieve exactly what you may think is the optimal position – but a compromise solution will often be much better than the alternatives.

Are you ready to use active listening in family mediation?

Get in touch with Ian today and find out how to book your family mediation in Perth now.