Birmingham AL Collaborative Divorce Law Blog

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

How To Transform Conflict Part 3: Developing Creative Solutions

During the process of divorce you may hit a roadblock where you and your ex can’t even agree to disagree. You’re stuck. The more you both dig in, each insisting on your point of view, the more difficult it becomes to find a solution.

How do you get un-stuck? Peace expert John Paul Lederach’s four principles for conflict transformation prescribe that once you’re able to accept that your ex is a part of your life (for better or worse) and you become curious about how you might resolve your differences, the next logical step is taking action beyond the predictable (and often negative) reaction.

In other words, to get past the bitterness and end-fighting requires becoming open to something new and different — a creative solution.

No matter how adamant you are that you’re “right” and the other person is “wrong”, there is always at least one other possible option. Introducing this third idea, solution or element into the argument can break the stalemate and lessen tensions between the opposing parties. Here are three ways to invite creative thinking into an impasse:

1. Seek common ground: Instead of focusing on all the areas where you’re at odds, hone in on the items on which you can both agree. (For divorcing parents, the welfare of their children is often that mid-ground.) Finding a solution that benefits both you and your ex may require compassion and/or empathy. Or the option may mean setting aside your own needs momentarily so you can listen to the needs of the other person. None of these actions are easy, but they may decrease the animosity and frustration, which can allow for that new thought or idea to enter in.

2. Introduce a non-biased third-party: Consulting an expert may help you push beyond the stalemate and begin moving towards a more harmonious relationship. As Einstein said, “No problem can be solved by the same consciousness that created it.” One of the most effective ways to find creative solutions is to involve a divorce attorney, counselor or professional mediator. The literal third person perspective provides insight that you and your opponent may not have considered because you were both stuck in your own ideas.

3.  Let it begin with you: Although ideal, it is not necessary that both parties engage in the creative solution process. Conflict transformation begins when you let go of your fixed ideas and allow yourself to imagine the possibilities. As long as one party makes the decision to allow new ideas to come into play, tensions can be lessened. Becoming open to possible outcomes may do absolutely nothing to change your opponent’s mind, but it may allow you to realize what’s really valuable to you.

Next week: Part 4: Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone


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