Civil Negotiation and Mediation Blog

Divorce Mediation: Resist Pushing Their Buttons

Posted by Nancy Hudgins on Fri, Apr 6, 2012
divorce mediation resist pushing buttons

Divorce is one of the most difficult personal circumstances you can face.  It’s easy for your judgment to be clouded by anger, resentment, outrage, anxiety, and on and on.

This also makes it easy to lash out, either by being a bully, or being passive aggressive, or blaming, or just for the sake of retribution.

This is really hard, but it’s really important:  Try not to push your soon-to-be-ex’s buttons.  It may seem only fair to you to push them, after all, look what they have done to you.  But, ultimately, in the divorce mediation process, it’s a bad strategy.  Here’s why.

As part of your negotiation strategy, you want your soon-to-be-ex to be rational and have the ability to make good decisions.  If you push their buttons, one of two things will immediately happen:  they will become emotional, and may be unable to make decisions, or, they will become irrational, which might make them punitive, and certainly won’t make them willing to negotiate in a give-and-take manner with you. 

According to Stuart Diamond, a negotiation professor at the Wharton School of Business and author of Getting More, when people get emotional, their judgment is clouded, their creativity is limited, their decision-making is poor and their information processing ability is impaired.  Then they think of punishment, revenge and retaliation.  Ramping up emotion in negotiation is not your best move.

It may feel good to needle them, or twist the knife a little, or play Gotcha, but ultimately, it works to your disadvantage.  Be smart.  Don’t go there.  At least not if you want to get what you want out of the divorce.  To get what you want, you need them to be rational.