You may think “There is no way we’ll be able to reach agreement, we’re too far apart.” However, Dispute Resolution professionals can help you move past those differences to find ground for agreement.
The first secret is looking behind the the disagreements. You have to ask what the disagreement is really about. The disagreements themselves tend to be what we call positions (things like “I want $100,000”). Positions lock us up. If all we have are positions, then we are just butting heads. When we start looking at what is behind the positions, we can get creative about exploring other ways to deal with the underlying issues. For instance, if the demand for $100,000 is about the desire to buy a home, there may be other ways to accomplish that. We might need to discuss how much home is really going to meet the needs of that person, there might be creative financing methods to get the person in with less downpayment, etc.
The second secret is very simply to shut up and listen. We have to realize that the other party isn’t going to want to make an agreement with us unless we find a way to deal with the issues that matter most to them. To really understand what matters to the other person we have to listen carefully, ask questions, and listen some more. Only once we have done that do we have some hope of coming up with some ideas that address the other party’s concerns as well as our own. Think about it, do people listen to you better when you talk about you, or when you talk about them?
The final secret is finding the common ground. Too often we focus only on the differences. However, there is usually common ground as well. That common ground might be the welfare of joint children, a shared desire to be fair (even is we disagree about what “fair” means), other shared values (you did marry each other), or some goal both parties recognize as important. Once you find the common ground, that can provide a basis from which to build solutions that will be agreeable to both parties.