Active listening and collaborative divorce

Active Listening in Collaborative Practice

Active listening and collaborative divorce

The collaborative process has several benefits to offer its participants with respectful communication being a key component. Throughout the collaborative process, the parties will engage in discussions as part of settlement negotiations and with the emphasis on the parties expressing their interests. The process of the parties expressing their respective interests and goals (over that of legal positions found in the adversarial litigation processes) takes the full commitment and cooperation of all the participants in the collaborative process.

A prominent skill to adapt and enhance for parties is that of Active Listening. Active listening is a skill that some find natural, while others acquire it with education and/or training. It is a skill that can be learned and developed with practice. However, for many, especially with the emotional stress of divorce, find active listening to be particularly challenging to manage.  The collaborative team is there to help. The members of your collaborative team will have advanced education and training with this skillset.  The collaborative team’s Coach, as a mental health professional, possesses particularly advanced knowledge, training, and skills to provide insight and assistance.

As the name suggests, active listening requires one to fully and actively listen. Full concentration on what is being said as opposed to simply “hearing”. It involves the use of all senses, including, among other things, being seen by the speaker as actively listening. This can be accomplished both verbally and non-verbally.

Non-verbal signs may include maintaining eye contact and nodding one’s head. Posture may be another with leaning slightly forward or sideways being signs of active listening.  Also, mirroring facial expressions of the speaker may show empathy. Verbal signs include techniques that demonstrate you remember key points. The positives will be you are reinforcing that a message has been heard and understood. That, in turn, is likely to encourage the speaker to continue and to afford you the same attention in return.

Also, another technique is to repeat a summary of what has been said back to the speaker in order to repeat what has been said in the listener’s own words. The technique involves taking the main points of the received message and reiterating them in a clear, concise, and logical way, which, in turn, also provides the speaker an opportunity to clarify if necessary.

The professional members of your collaborative team are there to help. The team goal is to provide an atmosphere for the parties to most effectively express their interests and to facilitate the respectful and collaborative resolution of the parties’ divorce or family law matter.

If you are going through a divorce or family law matter, and interested in a collaborative resolution, the Missouri Collaborative Institute can help. You can contact us online or give us a call.


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