He Said, She Said

I work almost exclusively as a neutral professional, meeting with moms and dads in the throes of co-parenting nightmares. In my line of work as a coach and mediator, “He said, She said” is the norm. So I listen to both sides with curiosity and compassion. And the stories simply don’t line up. Her story revolves around the evidence that he doesn’t care about the messes he makes; his story highlights her being too emotional. He says she badmouths him to the children; she says she is completely innocent.

While many clients expect me to pick a “winner”, they get a very surprising response from me. Thanks to the role-modeling of my dear cousin Luanne and beloved sister-in-law Becky, I am able to hear what is beyond the facts my clients present, and focus on the client’s experience. Luanne and Becky have a way of connecting that makes me feel whole and accepted “as-is, ” freeing me to release my cultural trappings and be authentic. As I listen to clients, my intention is for them to feel fully accepted for their version of the story and whatever it means to them. In other words, both sides are “right” and deserve to have their experiences validated, completely.
No BUT’s.

So what happens to the space in between his story and her story? What if a decision has to be made that can include only one version?

We look not at BUT’s – only AND’s

We often need a little time to hear and process their stories.

Then the magic happens … when seen and heard, people shift, and solutions emerge.

Once my clients have the experience of being validated by someone who matters to them, they realize it is not so important to have the other person’s story line up with theirs. They rely on support from me to find ways to get their needs met even while the other side remains unconvinced of their truth.

Once my clients have the experience of being validated by someone who matters to them, they realize it is not so important to have the other person’s story line up with theirs. They rely on support from me to find ways to get their needs met even while the other side remains unconvinced of their truth.

It is amazing to watch clients turn on the “we don’t have to agree” switch. They realize...

agreement is not the goal – solutions are the goal,

and solutions naturally emerge once people receive the gift of presence and understanding.

Not all my clients develop the talent of listening without requiring agreement. Some aren’t ready.

I’ve been there.

There were conversations I could not have with my husband, Edward, while we were dating. We simply could not tolerate our opposing perspectives. I was too attached to my opinions to listen as he shared his convictions, especially about politics, religion, and lifestyle issues. It’s been a rewarding process to learn to connect without necessarily finding agreement, no matter what the topic. “He said, she said” has brought about immense positive change in both my husband and me. We now engage conversations for the sake of connecting and understanding, and can usually resist the inner tug of wanting to say, “I’m right on this one.” We are both right.

So when my clients insist on agreement with their co-parent, I don’t correct them. I just listen. Solutions will come.

Affirmation: I am free to hold on to my truth and fully listen to the truths of others.

Let me know how I can support you further in releasing your need to be the "winner".

Posted in February 2018.

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