In mediation we often see clients come up against issues where one, or both, of them feels like the trust that they once had has been broken. Something that has happened between them as partners could have broken their trust and this might mean that they do not feel able to trust each other as parents.
So how to get past this? Never trust each other again? Would that even work? How would it impact on any children? There is an alternative.
Invest time into identifying ways to rebuild trust with the other parent. Each parent could consider what they could each do to help move past their own trust issues, for example then move towards developing joint strategies and actions that could be adopted to help move forward together. Communicating and sharing these strategies is key. But if this seems too difficult then family mediation could help.
As family mediators we do not tell our clients what to do, they know their circumstances and their children better than we ever would. So, if trust is an issue between parents in a mediation session we ask questions to help them think about what they could do to help them move forward together whilst also providing them with support to help communicate these ideas with each other.
If it’s difficult to think of strategies or actions that could help rebuild trust then Harvard Business School professor Frances Frei has spoken about her thoughts on trust: how to build it, maintain it and rebuild it. Below the italic text is an extract of her talk with some of her key points.
"If you’re going to rebuild trust you have to understand its component parts.
If you sense a person is being authentic, that they have real rigor in their logic and that their empathy is directed towards you, you are far more likely to trust them.
When all three of these things are working, we have great trust. But if any aspect of these wobbles, trust is threatened.
Empathy is the most common wobble. Here’s the prescription: look up, look at the people in front of us, deeply immerse ourselves in their perspectives.
Logic wobbles can come in two forms. Its either the quality of your logic or its your ability to communicate the logic. It’s often the case that our logic is sound but its our ability to communicate the logic that is in jeopardy. There is a very easy fix to this, start with your point in a crisp half-sentence and then give your supporting evidence. This means that people will be able to access our ideas.
The third wobble is authenticity. In many ways the prescription is clear. You don’t want to have an authenticity wobble, be you. And that is so easy to do when you’re around people who are like you. But if you represent any sort of difference the prescription to ‘be you’ can be super challenging. If we hold back who we are, we’re less likely to be trusted we’re less likely to progress. Pay less attention to what you think people want to hear from you and far more attention to what your authentic self needs to say."
Below are some tips for communicating with ex-partners based on Frances Frei’s tips on building trust.
Listen and don’t interrupt. Be fully present when with people and tune into their non-verbal communication.
Sharing new ideas with ex-partners can be difficult at times. Family mediation can help with communication.
Each person can choose how they behave and how they express themselves to others, including ex-partners.