I have been a divorce and family attorney for a long time. And I want to let you in on a little secret that sets me apart from other divorce and family attorneys.
I actually want to keep you OUT of my office.
You’re probably thinking that philosophy is incompatible with running a successful family law practice. But actually quite the contrary. Keeping couples from splitting up in the first place is quite the challenge, but is a very successful and rewarding endeavor.
Let me explain where I am coming from. Healthy relationships are very important to me. So much so, I have written several books on the subject ranging from how to live better in a relationship to how to mediate a divorce and stay out of the legal system.
And most recently I hosted a Saturday afternoon workshop attended by nearly 100 people entitled “Successful Relationships: The secret behind creating love, passion, fun and commitment.”
But my ideals remain simple. I don’t want to see people break up. I want to see the positive side of things. So, when I do mediation for clients there is a small percentage who actually want to stay together and not divorce. They clear up their miscommunications. That is the part I love to see. I was able to catch the problem before they made up their mind.
And in general, there is a common thread as to why couples want to split up. The answer is just communication. Or lack of communication. Or miscommunication. But in any other these scenarios, something isn’t getting across. Basically, a lot of times people are on the same page, they have the same intentions. But they misunderstand and, they midjudge each other.
If you do find yourself in my office, I will make you undergo communications exercises. One of which is an active listening exercise, which is defined as “listening to understand, not to respond.”
People don’t listen because they are thinking about what they are I going to say next? They’re focusing inward. But active listening is listening in a way that allows the other person to be understood, but also allows you to be able to repeat back exactly what the other person said. It’s not easy.
There is a huge emotional benefit to be able to listen to people that is sometimes difficult to do, but is very simple. One thing to keep in mind with listening is sometimes people don’t want an answer. They just want to be heard.
And as far as poor communication goes, the reasons that cause them can be infinite. It could be caused by the speaker’s side. The speaker may not be a good communicator. Or sometimes you’ll say things that you don’t mean because it just comes out. So, having things reflected back to you is helpful because you can clear up what you meant.
But as always with human beings, communication is much more complicated than that.
So much about communication is interpretation. Words only make up about 5 percent. The rest is body language and intonation. So, as you can see, that leaves a lot of room open to interpretation.
In addition, communicating using modern technology creates real problems for couples because most methods leave out too many human elements.
And texting is the worst. In person is, of course, the best, and the phone is OK as at least you have intonation. But text messages can be interpreted in so many ways. And not texting back can be interpreted in so many ways. It can really strain relationships.
So, as a divorce attorney, does this reach into the relationship world help my business. I would emphatically say yes.