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272 South Los Robles Avenue #203, Pasadena, CA 91101

Georgia Daniels, J.D., Mediator in Pasadena

CONSTRUCTIVE CONFLICT – Part 4 – Handling Disagreement

Part of the mediator’s job is to coach the parties on how to disagree without being disagreeable.  By observing ground rules based on mutual respect, mediation participants are more likely to stay in the realm of positive problem-solving.
Adherence to these three ground rules typically leads to positive problem-solving:
1.  Avoid interrupting.  (The other party can take notes of points he or she wishes to emphasize when it is his or her turn.)
2.  Speak from your own experience.  (“I-statements” convey your own feelings; the other party will have a turn to share his or her perspective later.)
3.  Avoid showing signs of disrespect.
Positive, forward-looking problem-solving tends to lead to mutually agreeable solutions.  For more information, call 626-441-1900 or visit


Breaking the Cycle of Blame


Mediation ground rules that emphasize respect for each participant’s humanity tend to promote development of a positive, problem-solving lens for the mediation.  To break out of a cycle of unproductive conflict that focuses on history and blame, a divorcing couple may use a forward-looking lens to generate movement towards settlement.  This positive outlook is based on using the lens of respect – respect for self, for the other, for the mediator and for the process of mediation.
When a person feels disrespected or blamed, he or she is more likely to respond emotionally. When feelings run high, thoughtful, problem-solving becomes less likely for the rest of the mediation session.  It may be time to take a break, or adjourn for the day.
For more information, call 626-441-1900 or visit


Conflicting Information; Conflicting Feelings 
There are at least two types of conflict that can crop up in mediation: conflict over data or information, which is also known as cognitive conflict, and conflict over feelings, or  affective conflict.  Divorce mediation tends to focus on facts or information.  But before people can resolve their differences regarding facts or information, they may need to air their feelings.
Conflict over feelings has a greater potential to derail a productive mediation if it is not skillfully managed.  Sometimes, one party may seek to review relationship history and to assign blame for a particular outcome.  The blaming perspective is rarely productive.  This does not mean that feelings have no value in mediation; they do.  Often, it is impossible to move forward until each party has had the opportunity to state his or her truth about a matter, and to feel heard.  Then, when the parties feel truly heard, they can move on to reviewing their situation, to seeing it again with a new focus on current and future actions rather than past history.
For more information, call 626-441-1900 or visit

Georgia Daniels, J.D., Mediator | 272 S Los Robles Avenue #203, Pasadena, CA 91101 | 626-441-1900

Los Angeles Mediator and Pasadena Mediator disclaimer: The California divorce mediation, estate planning mediation, family business mediation, or other family mediation information presented in this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of a mediator/client relationship. Please contact a Pasadena Mediator for a consultation on your particular situation.