Divorce Mediation

Divorce Mediation: Lessons from a Hostage Negotiator

September 9, 2020

Retired New York Supreme Court Justice and active mediator Matthew Rosenbaum (Ret.) presents some advice from a retired FBI hostage negotiator that will be helpful to anyone about to enter into a divorce mediation.

1- “Rewire” your brain for a positive attitude. Display a calm demeanor and tone of voice. Don’t be condescending. Engage the other side without seeking to upset them. Do your best to treat the mediation like an opportunity for a better outcome rather than as a personal battle.

2- Actively listen. Summarize what the other side has said with a true understanding of their perspective. This will peak their interest in what you are going to say next.

3- Address negative feelings. This seems dangerous, but research shows that identifying negative emotions reduces their impact on an interaction. Addressing these feelings can diffuse tensions and make communication easier.

4- Save your arguments and explanations until after you have accomplished the objectives above (positivity, active listening, addressing negative feelings). They will be better received at that point.

5- Move forward. After a party has been heard, it can be effective to ask them “how do we move forward?” This question can broaden their perspective and encourage collaboration.

6- Don’t fight for the last word. Justice Rosenbaum advices that the last impression is a lasting impressing. Don’t take a cheap shot. Make it positive.

Read Justice Rosenbaum’s full post for more advice and explanations.

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