If you are “stuck” then read on, as we share our top tips on how to disagree respectfully and move matters forward in an informed way, allowing you to come out the other side, while still liking the person you see when you look in the mirror.
Disagreeing with your ex is not the problem, it’s how you do it that counts and how you do it requires an understanding of the dynamic common to most relationships that are in difficulty and particularly where an impasse has been reached. You will likely recognise these common features if you are currently “stuck”:
- Power and control – whose priorities matter more? Who makes the decisions?
- Trust issues – where there is a lack of honesty and integrity in the other, or it is your perception that this is lacking in your relationship.
- Respect and recognition – where this is lacking, or it is your perception that this is lacking in your relationship
We are living in an increasingly polarised society and nothing is more polarising than a nasty divorce, but there are effective ways to break the deadlock. Learning from tried and tested conflict resolution strategies in conflict zones, can teach us a lot. These very same strategies are applicable in acrimonious family law proceedings. Family law disputes are complex and dealing with complexity requires flexibility and an appreciation of nuance. Things are rarely black and white.
So how do you make progress when you are consumed with dislike, distrust and are fearful for your future?
The first point is to identify the common pitfalls, avoid the “race to the bottom” and improve your conversation.
When civility is not enough – civility is a low standard. If someone asked you how you were getting along with your boss, or your best friend and you answered by saying, “we are civil to each other” alarm bells would ring.
Face it, if you find it difficult to deal with someone who disagrees with you, then you have a problem and need to work on coping mechanisms and how to respond constructively.
Our top tips are:
- Aim for empathy – recreate a willingness to listen, be curious and open to the other’s point of view
- Avoid “battles” where one person positions themselves above the other in a misconceived hierarchy
- Speak truthfully – honest, open dialogue can be brutally uncomfortable and inevitably requires showing vulnerability, but it must be done if you want to avoid remaining “stuck”
- Accept that disagreement is sometimes necessary to progress
- Understand the difference between your opinions and facts, evidence, and expertise
- Do not automatically attribute improper motives to the other person – you cannot read their mind and humans are notoriously bad at accurately discerning people’s true beliefs and motives
- Don’t aim for the middle ground – splitting the difference is not the answer if you fundamentally disagree, so work hard to find the common ground of the hopes that you nonetheless share
- The Golden Rule – avoid contempt at all costs- contempt goes beyond disagreement and suggests that you do not just disagree with the other but consider them a lesser being than you. Showing contempt is the most damaging way to disagree and prevents you from looking at the various arguments on merit
And remember you can never insult another person into agreement!
For an initial FREE consultation on any aspect of family law, call Manders Law on 01245 895 105 or email us here.
Note: this blog is intended to give an overview (rather than comprehensive guidance and advice) on your legal or financial position and is provided for information only. It is not an endorsement of any product or service provider.