The training to learn the Insight Approach to conflict resolution is long and involved and I’ll be honest, it’s been the most challenging skill-building for me in my entire legal career.

So why do I do it?

Because this approach makes me better as a Mediator, as a Collaborative Divorce professional, and as a family law attorney in general.

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What exactly is the Insight Approach to conflict resolution?

The idea behind it is that practitioners bring curiosity to helping clients resolve conflicts. This isn’t easy! Because when I’m sitting in a room with two people, or in a room where there is conflict, my tendency is to tell people what they need to do or know.

The complete opposite of the Insight Approach.

Resolving Conflict

Using this training to help people resolve differences during a divorce is not about telling anyone anything. It’s about asking questions to give the people in conflict the opportunity to hear each other differently, and to understand each other in a way they haven’t before, in the way each intends to be understood.

They may still disagree, but now they gain an understanding that they did not have earlier, and this understanding can open minds to alternative, and often creative, solutions.

As an Insight professional, I keep delving into what each client is saying, and checking in with the other person to ask what they are taking away from the other person’s words. It’s a lot of back and forth and checking in, with me turning back and saying, “Is that what you intended?”

The goal: Understanding.

When the other person inevitably says “No,” it’s not what they intended to communicate, we go back to try to get the words more right, so both people share the same understanding.

Certainly, this approach takes longer to get to resolution, and people always want the divorce process to be fast. Breaking up a marriage is uncomfortable, it’s emotional, and no one wants to linger in those feelings.

True conflict resolution is not a fast process, especially in divorce and family law. I’ll admit, it’s hard to not cave to my clients’ desires to pick up the pace, or my desire to tell them what to do. It would certainly be easier!

But not nearly as effective or fulfilling for all involved.

Asking the Right Questions

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Sometimes, I wonder if I’m asking the right questions. In the end, though, the effort is more than worth it because clients are much more satisfied with their outcomes!

Although the Insight Approach to conflict resolution began in law with Mediation, I use my newly acquired skills in every aspect of my legal practice. When I’m using it in the Collaborative Divorce room, there have been really bright lightbulb moments, where I ask a question, and with the support of the Collaborative team, our clients have a discussion that leads to a noticeable shift of perspectives and understandings.

Later, in debrief, my colleagues will say “That was such a good question,” or, “I loved the way you asked that question.” They can see that something changed for the clients, which set us on our way to a successful divorce settlement agreement.