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.
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