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  • Richard Brydson

Negotiation 101: Preparing for Family Mediation

This blog is written for you if negotiating is something you're not comfortable doing.  Perhaps your former spouse is not shy about asking for what they want or you are looking to turn a new page and speak up for what's most important to you.  

I offer the following suggestions as a starting point as you prepare to discuss long term plans with your former partner, and I recommend you consider using these tips before you begin any settlement discussions in mediation. 

This is your chance to really make the change you want in your life… in your children’s lives.

To make the best use of these reflective exercises, it’s important to think about them before the first negotiation attempt. If you have already tried and your first attempt to move forward was less than satisfactory, you can use them to develop a new strategy before you try again. This is key because there will likely not be enough time to re-evaluate a strategy carefully during a mediation session.

Tip #1: Ask yourself “What do they need, so I get what I want?”

This is a great question because it allows you to be clear about what you want to get, but also give you the chance to see if you have something to trade, or compromise on something that is less important to you. Being clear and showing consideration at this time is a positive way to build trust as a partner in a future co-parenting relationship.

Tip #2: “Negotiate with who is in front of you, not with who you want them to be”.

This one can be considerably harder to put into practice, especially when negotiating with our former spouse. During your marriage, you may have spent a lot of energy trying to change the other person and experienced a lot of frustration and headache along the way. 

This tip is really important if you are looking to focus more on your self-care. 

First, acknowledge that the person you’re talking to is likely not going to change, or if they do it might come at a significant cost to you. They may be prone to interrupting, or need to take breaks to relieve some pressure, so the second step is to anticipate these behaviours and to allow them to happen once to see if you can find some acceptance, and look towards benefiting your bigger picture goals in the long run.

By changing your contribution to a style more common in a business partnership, you’re giving yourself a break from the frustration of having unrealistic expectations that they will finally learn how to behave. I have witnessed this in practice and have had it reported to me from clients that their co-parent did start to cope better, and communicate less confrontationally. 

Whether these two pre-negotiation exercises are used by themselves in a settlement negotiation–or as part of a larger insight-building conversation designed to build self-reliance and integrity–they are useful suggestions intended to help you prepare  to have a difficult conversation in a mutually beneficial way. 

Negotiating During a Family Mediation Joint Session

Negotiating with your spouse during a joint session can be a painful and frustrating process. It can also be several positive conversations and lead to a co-parenting relationship with mutual respect and a collaborative focus on your children’s well-being. 

For more conflict resolution tips and advice, check out my blog for future updates or contact me today at or 6477860352 for more information about my family mediation services.

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