Sep 2011 29

It’s much harder to mediate your personal situation and family problems than it is to help someone else with theirs!  That is the ultimate test of your skills as a professional–do you YOUR skills translate to home?

I was concerned that mine did not, or at least not enough to warrant dishing out advice on the 8 Keys to Resolving Conflict in my latest book. I’ve always felt strongly about walking my talk as an attorney. I made it my business to be honest and not to get involved in a bunch of lawsuits.

But doing so as a mediator was much, much harder.

My relationship with my 2nd husband is the easy part. Steve is a very easygoing guy and I’m definitely the higher maintenance of the two of us.   I truly appreciate him.  We’ve been married almost 13 years and have more fun together all the time.  I even have a good relationship with my 1st husband, Bill, and his family.  I am friends, or at least Facebook Friends, with many of my high school classmates, including the ones I “hated” at the time.

But my family….not so easy.  Without going into too much detail, my parents’ marriage had rocky parts, and there were individual problems for them as well. My brother sometimes struggled in school and I was a mischief maker.  Like any family, pretty much.  

My dad pointed out once that his brother’s family, which I basically see as the ideal family, also had problems. He rattled off a few of the “bad” things that had happened to them and between them, and I said, “But that’s exactly what makes them such a great family. They aren’t perfect, but they support each other and they work through things and in the end come together as a family!”

I could see from the look on his face that he didn’t get it.  If it wasn’t a Beaver Cleaver family, it wasn’t good enough.

Anyway, so the seeds of my rocky relationship with my dad run deep. Let’s just leave it at that.

So imagine my surprise when my dad reflected on of the 8 keys to resolving conflict back to me, unprompted!  “This is a tough problem, but we’re smart people. We can figure out a solution.” 

I almost fainted!  I am getting through! And it’s working!

By way of the back story about why I’m even bothering and putting myself out there with my father…..

So I figured the ultimate challenge for myself on this blog was to attempt to mediate and repair my relationship with my father.  After all, how could I tell others to choose their battles or use “I” statements if I wasn’t going to do it myself?

And you know what? It changed my life.  Profoundly.  My relationship with my dad is still pretty rocky, but it’s better. But bringing those 8 keys to resolving conflict into my everyday life has been nothing short of a game-changer. My capacity for empathy has expanded and I’m better able to relate to clients and friends by aligning with my true commitment to help resolve things, be honest, approach problems with integrity, and live my life as a mediator and peacemaker.

Pretty exciting stuff.

Diana Mercer is the co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life (Perigee 2010). Join the conversation and community on our video blog and check out Diana’s divorce blog on the Huffington Post

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