Author Archives: Susan Ingram

Creating Daily “Listening Time” with Your Child

NYC divorce and family mediator Susan Ingram of discusses the importance of creating time every day to actively listen to your child.An article that recently appeared in HuffPost Parents entitled “The Most Important 10 Minutes of a Child’s Day” triggered my own thoughts about supporting our children’s emotional well-being. The suggestions of the author, Kenneth Barish, Ph.D., a clinical associate professor of psychology at Weill Medical College, Cornell University, were simple, yet very meaningful.

Mediation: Balancing Self-Determination and the Law

NYC Mediator Susan Ingram of explains the divorce mediation process.In my last blog article, I talked about the concept of fairness, and how it is easier for a couple to reach a “fair” agreement in a mediation setting – because THEY are the ones making the decisions. If they were litigating their divorce in court, a judge or their attorneys would be making decisions for them.

What’s “Fairness” Got to Do with It?

NYC Mediator Susan Ingram explains how the mediation setting lends itself to a more "fair" divorce agreement than possible in the traditional litigation setting.In the divorce arena, a fascinating balance exists between the dictates of the law and a couple’s ability to determine what is “fair” for them, given their specific circumstances. If a couple chooses mediation over a litigated divorce, they have the opportunity to craft an agreement that more accurately reflects their needs.

How is this so? Even though the mediation process still remains under the “umbrella” of the law, in mediation a couple has much more flexibility in framing an agreement that meets both parties’ needs and is “fair” for both of them.

Under New York State divorce law, the non-custodial parent is required to pay child support to the custodial parent. This makes sense as long as one parent (defined as the custodial parent) has the children more than 50% of the time. Unfortunately, the law has not been updated to reflect the equal parenting approach that has become more popular in recent years. So when the law is applied to a truly 50/50 child-sharing arrangement, the results can end up being quite “unfair.”

What’s the Difference Between Empathy and Sympathy?

Please take a look at the video below, The Power of Empathy, which was produced by RSA Shorts. In just three short minutes, it explains the power of empathy in an extremely creative and humorous way. Enjoy viewing it – and then  continue on with my article, as I share with you some of my own thoughts on this subject.
NYC mediator Susan Ingram discusses the importance of empathy and how it differs from sympathy.

“AND” – One Little Word that Can Make a Big Difference

“AND” - One Little Word that Can Make a Big Difference By Susan IngramI’m going to share with you a simple tip that can significantly change the focus of your conversations and make them more productive. It has to do with the word “and.” By consciously choosing when and how you include “and” in your conversations, you can go from frustrating exchanges that don’t get anywhere to discussions that explore options and come up with viable solutions.

To understand how this works, we first have to start with the way our conversations normally progress. Typically, when you’re having a discussion with another person, both of you are going back and forth with each of your own proposals, and not really listening to what the other person has just said.

So, let’s say Joe and Mary are talking about the best way to invest their savings. Joe wants to invest it very conservatively and Mary would like to take more risk. Joe states his concerns about protecting their money and then suggests that they invest mostly in very safe municipal bonds.

Mary doesn’t acknowledge what Joe has just said. Instead, she immediately begins her response with the word “but” and proceeds to state her position only – that they invest exclusively in a portfolio of stocks. They continue to go back and forth with “but” statements in this manner and make no progress toward an agreement on their investment strategy.

6 Tips for Resolving Conflicts

No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. We have to think with a new mind. ~ Albert Einstein

6 Tips for Resolving Conflicts By Susan IngramIn the broadest sense of the word, “conflict” is…any situation in which one person’s concerns or desires differ from those of another person and appear to be incompatible. Conflict is inevitable, but how we handle it is a choice. That’s true whether we’re dealing with conflict in our private lives (with our partner, children, other family members, friends) or in our work lives (with our colleagues or other professionals).

A conflict can be as simple as “Who is going to do the dishes tonight” or as complicated as ”How do we get to world peace” – and everything in between. Here are some basic tips for resolving conflict in a positive and constructive manner.

The Many Faces of Mediation: Elder Parents & Adult Siblings

The Many Faces of Mediation: Elder Parents & Adult Siblings By Susan IngramWhile most people have heard of divorce mediation, far fewer are aware that mediation can also be extremely helpful in discussing difficult issues that arise with respect to elder parents and their adult children.

There are many concerns that need to be addressed as a parent ages. These concerns may focus on:

Housing and living arrangements
Need for additional caregiving
Need for financial help
Quality of life
Healthcare decisions
Estate planning

The Many Faces of Mediation: Family Businesses

The Many Faces of Mediation: Family Businesses By Susan IngramBy their very nature, family businesses can be especially challenging to manage successfully. First, there are the normal (and not so normal) demands and pressures of running a business. But then, superimpose on that the complex relational issues that arise within a family structure . . . and you have the makings of what could potentially be a very difficult work environment.

If a couple is having issues in their marriage, they can go to a couples’ therapist, or perhaps a family mediator, to try to work things out. With a family business, it’s different. While the business would not seek out the help of a therapist, it might benefit greatly from working with a trained mediator.

So what exactly does the family business mediator do?

The Many Faces of Mediation: Couples and Families

The Many Faces of Mediation: Couples and Families By Susan IngramI published an article recently about marital mediation in the context of couples who have been working with a family or couples therapist. Since this is such an important and little understood subject, I would like to take the opportunity to explain this process from a broader perspective.

Simply put, a mediator is a skilled conflict resolution professional who serves as an impartial person to guide/facilitate the difficult discussions a couple needs to have in order to reach viable solutions to move forward with their lives. The mediator does not tell the couple what to do, or decide for them how their issues should be resolved (as an arbitrator would do).

Insights from a Dispute Resolution Pro

INSIGHTS FROM A DISPUTE RESOLUTION PRO by Susan IngramDuring the month of October, people in the U.S. and abroad celebrate the field of dispute resolution in all its many forms. On October 8th, I participated in a kick-off event at the NY City Bar Association for Mediation Settlement Day 2013.

The honorary chair and keynote speaker was Kenneth Feinberg, Esq. Mr. Feinberg’s name will be familiar to many. He served as Special Master of the U.S. government’s September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Since then, he has overseen other well-known funds established to compensate victims of mass tragedies in the U.S., including the BP Gulf Oil Spill Fund, the Sandy Hook Newtown Fund and most recently, the Boston One “Marathon” Fund.