Working Creatively with Conflict

Teresa S. Cole, Esq
January 2018

I just attended the January 2018 CPNV monthly meeting and participated in the training on “Working Creatively with Conflict”.  The training was taken from the teachings and writings of Gary Friedman, Jack Himmelstein and Katherine Miller who speak and write extensively on Mediation and Conflict Resolution.  Our local trainers on the topic were Debbie Beach, Patrice Garver and Debbie Nackman - all three serve as Divorce Coaches and Child Specialists in our local Collaborative divorce cases.  The training focused on the importance of “understanding” in reaching agreements.  A necessary precursor to reaching agreement is understanding what the other party is saying.  If you are in a Mediation or Collaborative divorce session with your spouse and your spouse makes a statement about what they want and why, it is an instinctual, automatic response to respond by saying what you disagree with or simply by saying “No, I don’t want that.”  Instead, this training taught us that it is really important and often really hard to withhold your feelings and first try to understand what your spouse just said.  All too often we feel that if we repeat what we just heard that means we agree with it, and the lesson to be learned is that providing an affirmation that we heard what our spouse just said and understood it does not mean we are agreeing to what they said.  It is, however, an important first step in allowing the conversation to continue in a manner that may lead to agreement.  Understanding is the key.  The foundation of a solution is going to be built not only upon your own views, but the other party’s views, so developing a full understanding of the other party’s views is essential.  This includes not only the “what” in terms of their wants, but the “why” which allows you to think more creatively about what a resolution might look like.


 “Working Creatively with Conflict” focuses on the importance of “understanding” in reaching agreements.