I just returned from Florida’s Third Annual State Collaborative Conference. (Collaborative Family Law Council of Florida) I was honored to be asked to present, while there, and my topic was “A Closer Look at the “I” in Collaborative Cases.”
I asked participants, in the description, to come with an open mind and a willingness to look at oneself, rather than our clients or forms that may need updating. I was very pleased that a room full of folks, from various professions, chose to attend. (One never knows based on the title I chose…)
During the presentation, we focused on our impact on clients, colleagues and the case itself. I asked participants to consider that who they are, at a core level, does clearly have an impact in terms of the biases we carry with us, the expectations we have of our own gender (or the opposite gender) and the triggers that show up for all of us. Equally important, we focused on how to know we are being triggered and how we find ourselves reacting to those triggers in meetings, team calls, or debriefs.
I found the discussion quite interesting since we had representation from several areas of the state, various experience levels in collaborative practice and all three disciplines. I was impressed by the willingness of participants to share some of the information above. (It’s always so much easier to focus on difficult clients or improving the process in some way) At one point, someone said, “Well, once we are triggered by a team member, what do we do?” A variety of answers showed up. Then, a wise lawyer in the back of the room raised his hand and suggested one might simply say something like “I am confused right now.”
That answer took me back to my early years of work as a therapist. I was always concerned that I was using the right words with clients. A very skilled therapist, with whom I was discussing this concern, told me when I don’t know what to say….”Just Say What is True for You at the Moment.”
I have used that advice, in some form or another, hundreds of times in my work and especially in my role as a neutral facilitator. I am often not sure what should be said next or exactly how to say it, but I find it so powerful to say to my colleagues, or clients who are developing a co-parenting relationship, just what is true for me at the time.
Here are some examples:
Wow. I am feeling very uncomfortable right now. I don’t know the best thing for me to say.
What you both just said was very powerful and has given me much to think about. I need to be still for a moment before I respond.
Things are feeling awkward for us as a collaborative team right now. Is anyone else experiencing that?
Here is what I am experiencing right now. Is that true for any of you, or, just me?
Many thanks to the participants in my workshop in beautiful Orlando, Florida. You helped me remember something that has proven useful in my work as a neutral facilitator. I am so impressed by the “collaborative energy” that has built in your state and happy to be a part of that whenever possible.