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Why Communication Fails in Divorce

As a mediator and lawyer, I meet people seeking divorce or unmarried couples with relationship problems. The happy years ended often leaving anger and bad memories. Our brains remember negative memories more than positive ones. We hear more negative than positive feedback, so we remember the bad more. When unhappy couples meet to resolve issues for their separation and divorce, they are inclined to remember just the bad and in turn become negative in negotiations.

When working with people in difficult negotiations, I recognize these phenomena. The pace may be slowed and we may reframe issues and comments in a positive manner. I also spot when decisions are being made based upon emotion instead of logic. When people are tired or stressed, they may use the part of their brain that is ruled by emotion (the limbic system) rather than the part of the brain that takes time to make decisions (the prefrontal cortex). This derails negotiations.

Scientists explain that we have "mirror neutrons" in our brains. You have seen this in action. One person's yawn leads another to yawn. One smile makes another smile. Children at a wedding, seeing adults dance, run to dance, too. One person's negativity causes the other to become negative. One raised voice leads to both parties shouting. This leads to high-conflict divorces, and expensive battles that affect the parties and their children.

I use my trained and experience mediating since 1995 to help people through difficult discussions and negotiations, avoiding traps based upon human nature. I strive to help people communicate. Barriers to effective listening include that people are preoccupied, are thinking where they are going next, thinking about what the mediator is going to ask, or just falling back into patterns of turning off the other person. That's why you may hear me repeat what someone has said on occasion.

Oral Communication is complex. Historically, the tone and pitch of our voices is 38% of our communication; nonverbal body language accounts for another 55 % of communication. This means that only 7% of communication is based upon the words that we use. Think of the communication differences that take place in person versus over the phone. Think of how much richer we view communicating on Skype/Facetime rather than just over a telephone where body language is hidden. Consider how much of our communication has been reduced to 140 word tweets and short bursts of text messages. Negotiating and settling important issues require full communication, plus a positive expectation that a positive end result will be achieved in reasonable time and in a cost-effective manner.

Call Steve for help you in settling your marital/relationship disputes.

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Law Office of Steven J. Hirsch, Esq

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