Many family mediators talk about what issues you should raise in your family mediation sessions but what about what NOT to say in family mediation.

Sometimes what you don’t say is just as important as what you do say. Here are my thoughts on things it might be better not to raise in family mediation to help you reach a fair and amicable agreement with your ex.

What Not To Say in Family Mediation

Less ‘You’ & More ‘I’

This is so simple to do and yet extremely effective. By using more “I” and less “you”, you bring attention to your own feelings, concerns and opinions, without laying blame on your ex.

In doing so you encourage the other party to respond in a similar manner. This will often result in a  lowering of tension which will probably increase your chances of achieving a fair outcome. For example, instead of saying “You always…” try saying something like “I would prefer it if…” instead.

Mind The P’s & Q’s

Aggressive language including threats, foul, insulting or derogatory language, raising your voice, making intimidating gestures and hostile body language will not help resolve your issues. Family mediators should never tolerate this kind of behaviour from anyone in a mediation session.

If your ex behaves this way, try to be calm and respond in a respectful manner.

“My” Children vs “Our” Children

Try to avoid possessive language when talking about your kids – no matter why you have decided to go your own ways, you and your ex will always be their joint parents – so the kids are always “our” kids and you are looking for joint decisions about what will happen in the future.

You fail to recognise your ex’s parental rights when you refer to the children as “my children”.

Using the term “our children” acknowledges your acceptance of the shared responsibilities of both parents. It respects the fundamental legal principle that you are looking for a settlement that acknowledges the best interest of the children.

“Yes …. but…”

Qualifying matters unnecessarily is not helpful in mediation when you’re looking for solutions, not additional problems.

By saying “yes … but…” often comes across as a message that you are simply paying lip-service to the other person’s point of view.  “Yes…and”….  potentially opens up many more possibilities.

Requests, Not Demands

Demands – especially potentially unreasonable ones – are rarely helpful at the family mediation table.

Making open requests instead shows your willingness to cooperate and that you are open to your ex’s opinions and suggestions. This is in keeping with the intention of mediation and may help to pave the way for a more effective process and fair outcomes.

You don’t have to forego or ignore your legal entitlements (as may have been explained to you by your family mediator), but try to phrase your language as part of an open negotiation, not as demands your ex must meet in order to arrive at an agreement.

Avoid Getting Personal

The focus of family mediation is to reach settlements that are fair and reasonable and in the best interests of the children; they are not about who is to blame for the breakup.

The Family Court will not approve a mediated settlement unless it complies with the basic requirements of the Family Law –fair and equitable financial settlements and arrangements that are in the best interests of the children.  Allegations about the past and personal accusations, (even if true), often lead to retaliatory responses, an intensifying of the conflict and prolonging or preventing the possibility of reaching a sensible settlement at mediation.

Helpful Communication Strategies to Use in Family Mediation

Effective communication strategies are vital in all discussions, negotiations and in resolving legal disputes – none more so than in family mediation, where emotions may be running high.

Careful preparation, listening actively to the other persons views, remaining calm and showing a willingness to negotiate and compromise will pave the way to a successful mediation and a reasonable settlement.

Listen Actively

Listening carefully and actively allows you to fully understand the mediator’s comments and your ex’s point of views; it enables you to respond appropriately. If you don’t fully understand any point made by the mediator or your ex, ask them to repeat it until you do understand it.

By listening actively, you may also recognise a major point of concern of your ex, enabling you to offer a possible solution for a favourable outcome.

Remain Calm

The key to dealing with difficulties you may encounter in family mediation is to remain calm and focused.

Make that your primary goal for your family mediation session. Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture: reaching a fair financial settlement and negotiating arrangements that are in the best interests of your children.

If you become flustered or overwhelmed at any point during mediation ask for a break, allowing you time to calm down and think rationally before responding. Go for a walk around the block and gather your thoughts.

It is vital that you avoid saying things in anger.

Always Use a Respectful Tone

Tone of voice is another clear indicator of what that person may be trying to say or even what they may be thinking.

Try to use a respectful tone at all times. This encourages your ex to reciprocate and smoothes the way to a constructive and less aggressive dialogue that makes the whole process easier for all parties.

Be Open to Negotiation

For family mediation to succeed, both parties must be open to negotiation and be willing to compromise throughout the process. There may be a lot of give and take.

Create a list of wants and needs in order of priority to assist you to negotiate a fair deal.

Mediation is about reaching a fair and just settlement. Only through constructive negotiation and by focusing on reaching an agreement that is in everyone’s best interests can you hope to achieve a fair outcome.

A fair and respectful settlement that you can all live with will definitely assist in your post-separation relationships that is in the best interests of your children.

What is fair for one couple may be very different for another. It all comes down to what you are prepare to agree upon.

Now that you know what not to say in family mediation, if you’re ready to book your family mediation session get in touch now.

Speak to accredited family mediator Ian Shann at Move On Mediation in Perth today to move on with your life quicker and more amicably.