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Guidelines for Decision-Making Conversations

High Conflict Parenting Divorce Course Couple Communication Communicating Making Decisions
  1. Clearly and specifically state what the issue is. 
    • Phrase the issue in terms of behaviors that are currently occurring or not occurring or in terms of what needs to be decided. 
    • Break down large, complex problems into smaller, simpler steps. 
    • Make certain that both partners agree on an objective statement of the problem, and are willing to discuss it. 
  2. Clarify why the issue is important and what your needs are. 
    • Clarify why the issue is important to each partner personally, and provide your understanding of the situation’s direct and indirect effects on you. 
    • Explain what personal needs must be taken into account in preparation for forming a solution.
  3. Discuss possible solutions. 
    • Propose concrete, specific solutions that account for your own and your partner’s needs and preferences. Do not focus on solutions that meet only your individual needs.
    • Focus on solutions for the present and the future. Do not dwell on the past or attempt to attribute blame for past difficulties. 
    • If you tend to focus on a single or a limited number of alternatives, consider “brainstorming” (generating a variety of possible solutions in a creative way). 
  4. Decide on a solution that is feasible and agreeable to both of you. 
    • If you cannot find a solution that meets both partners’ needs and preferences, prioritize specific criteria to come to a compromise.
    • State your solution in clear, specific, behavioral terms. 
    • After agreeing on a solution, restate the solution to cement both partners’ understanding of the situation. 
    • Do not accept a solution that will make you angry or resentful. 
  5. Decide on a trial period to implement the solution if it is a situation that will occur more than once. 
    • Allow for several attempts of the new solution. 
    • Review the solution at the end of the trial period. 
    • Revise the solution if needed, taking into account what you have learned thus far.
High Conflict Parenting Divorce Course Couple Communication Communicating Making Decisions

Guidelines for Decision-Making Conversations” was written for D’Arienzo Psychological Group by our 2019 summer intern and Stetson University Psychology Major, Thomas Henley.