You may notice that Open Palm Law’s website has the word “collaborative” plastered all over it. We each have an idea of what the word implies when we see or hear it. Collaboration is when two or more people or entities work together to achieve something, right? From the time we are born, we witness collaboration every single day. Our society runs on (coffee and) collaboration!
Family law is notorious for being depressing, divisive, and painstakingly time-consuming. So how do we facilitate collaboration when family law seems to emphasize the opposite?
The experience can be improved simply through the language that all involved use with each other. From the beginning of the divorce process, the tone on both sides should be cooperative. This is really emphasized in matters that employ the collaborative approach, in which professionals work as a team. However, in non-collaborative cases, there is a much higher chance that the divorce will end up as a “scorched-earth” case, as parties will want their counsels to be aggressive and “win.” However, as Joryn famously says around the office, “there are no winners in court.”
Conflict Is Actually Good?
For starters, let’s look at a larger-scale situation in which, in theory, everyone is collaborating, but realistically, that appears not to be the case: politics. Think about how often people want others to agree with them or take similar stands on the issues. How perfect would that be! Unfortunately (or fortunately), we all think uniquely, have various experiences, and communicate differently. This allows for diversity. Think about those interesting conversations in which you disagreed with your partner.
Any pineapple on pizza fans reading this?
Lewis Coser, a sociologist and leading proponent of conflict theory, argued that conflict is actually good for society. Why? Because a peaceful society should be evaluated by how well it tolerates differing views rather than by how hard it tries to eliminate unavoidable differences.
One Word = Impact
The truth may well be that the difference between a litigated divorce and a collaborative dissolution of marriage is the word “collaborative.” While collaborative divorce has a unique team approach with professionals and clients, many of the same professionals also practice in court, like Joryn! However, the word “collaborative” inclines professionals to be cooperative and solution-oriented, whereas litigation forces the professionals to look out only for the best interests of their clients.
Watch this Ted Talk to hear about the positive effect of the single word “gentlemen” with school-age minors in prison. This is the power of language.
The language that you use can set any situation up for success or failure. Beyond language, it is also the willingness to collaborate that makes a project successful. There have been many studies of the impact of the language we use. One study shows that speaking in the native language of the person with whom you speak improves the quality of communication and respect in a family setting.
However, you don’t need to learn an entirely new or foreign language to improve the quality of communication and respect with your partner. Rather, notice how he or she would like to be spoken to and the best way to help him understand you (also known as his love language – click here to take the quiz). If you and your partner can learn how to express yourselves, your conflicts can probably also be resolved amicably.
All In All
Language is power and power is language. Words clearly shape us and our future because it is how we communicate. In our law firm, we understand the impact of words from both the legal perspective but also the communication aspect. If you are interested in learning more, reach out to us at Open Palm Law.
Keerthana Kallarackal is a rising senior at the University of South Florida double majoring in Political Science and Philosophy. She joined Open Palm Law in May 2021 as an undergraduate intern. She is a member of the Judy Genshaft Honors College and currently serves on USF’s Conduct Board where she works to resolve conflict between students, an invaluable skill for family law practice. Keeri enjoys discussing political theory, questioning different viewpoints, and resolving conflict. you can find her biking, trying unique restaurants around Tampa, or volunteering at her church.