Working out a divorce settlement in divorce mediation or on your own involves some negotiation.  Here are some thoughts and tips you may find helpful.

Anxietynegotiation in divorce mediation

Anxiety hampers negotiation performance.  It interferes with the ability to think on your feet and narrows your perspective about the problem you are trying to solve.  Anxious negotiators tend to narrow their focus to a single strategy that will give them some feeling of control.

To be at your best and to be good negotiator, you should try to relax and be yourself during the process.  A good mediator will try to put both spouses at ease to facilitate this.

Negotiation Strategies

There are five basic strategies or inclinations as regards negotiating:

  • Avoiding
  • Compromising
  • Accommodating
  • Competing
  • Collaborating

The collaborative strategy is ideal.  It’s a mutual problem-solving strategy.  You cooperatively come up with solutions for the different areas required for the divorce.  You can fall back to compromising if and when problem solving doesn’t succeed.

If you still care about each other and trust each other, significant concessions may not be necessary.  Instead, you can work together to come up with options and ideas to try to meet everyone’s needs and make the best of the situation.

Information Gathering

Gathering reliable information facilitates problem solving.   A good information gathering process accomplishes several things:

  • Develops rapport
  • Clarifies important facts
  • Surfaces underlying issues, concerns and perceptions
  • Gives an initial testing of expectations

Effective negotiators play it straight, ask a lot of questions, listen carefully, and concentrate on what they and the other person are trying to accomplish.

The best negotiators exhibit an important trait: the ability to see the world from the other person’s point of view.  They accomplish this by being curious and finding out what is important to the other person.


Research indicates that the single most important step in becoming an effective negotiator is preparation.

Research on negotiation also reveals that people who expect more generally get more.  Try to think carefully about the full range of “fair and reasonable” outcomes and then develop an expectation for results in the high end of that range.

If you know what you want and why you think it’s reasonable for you to get it, you are more likely to have an inner feeling of confidence, self-esteem and commitment in the negotiations.

It’s a good idea to leave yourself some bargaining room to make concessions.  Concessions can communicate to the other person that you accept the legitimacy of their interests and recognize the need for some flexibility on your part to accomplish an agreement.


When an impasse occurs, it’s usually because you both see the other’s demands as leaving you below your legitimate expectations.  Eventually, if you are to make progress, either:

  1. One or both of you revises your position or
  2. You come to realize that you would be worse off with no agreement than you would be accepting an agreement that falls below your reasonable expectations.