Ground Rules during the Collaborative Law Process
While you and I cannot control how the other participants conduct themselves in negotiations, we can conduct ourselves in ways that have been proven to increase the chances of reaching agreement. Behaving in this way encourages similar behaviors from your spouse and his or her lawyer.
1. We will take turns speaking and not interrupt each other.
2. We will speak directly to one another rather than about one another, calling each other by our names, not “he” or “she.”
3. We will not blame, attack, or engage in put-downs and will ask questions for the purposes of gaining clarity and understanding only, not to score points or win arguments.
4. We will avoid taking hard positions and instead will express ourselves in terms of personal needs and interests and the goals and outcomes we would like to achieve.
5. We will listen carefully and respectfully in order to understand better the other person’s needs and interests and will not substitute planning our reply for real listening.
6. We recognize that even if we do not agree, each of us is entitled to respect for his or her own perspective.
7. We will not dwell on things that did not work in the past, but instead will focus on the future we would like to create.
8. We will make a sincere effort to avoid unproductive arguing, venting, and narratives, and we agree to work at all times during negotiations toward the most constructive and mutually acceptable agreement possible.
9. We will speak up if something is not working well in negotiations.
10. We will request a break when we need one, and will not remain at the negotiating table in a state of mind that is inconsistent with constructive problem-solving efforts.
11. While in negotiations, we will refrain from preemptive maneuvers, threats, ultimatums, and unilateral power plays.
12. We will take good physical and emotional care of ourselves so that each of us can participate fully and effectively in resolving our issues.
(Adapted from ground rules in wide use in the San Francisco Bay Area originally drafted by the Collaborative Council of the Redwood Empire.)