Being Thorough (Like a Good Journalist)

Feb 25, 2022

When I was growing up in the 60s and 70s (yes, I am a “boomer”), journalism was seen by most as a profession with integrity. Unfortunately, not everyone feels that way anymore. But you can count me as one who still appreciates journalism that is based on diligent research and facts that uncover the truth.

For clients in my divorce mediation practice, our work together to craft a plan for the future has a lot in common with good journalism—in a word, my goal is to be thorough.

For clients in my divorce mediation practice, our work together to craft a plan for the future has a lot in common with good journalism—in a word, my goal is to be thorough.

Just like a news reporter, the elements that describe “thorough” are simply inquiries that cover all the bases:

  • Who
  • What/How
  • When
  • Where
  • Why

In making your plan, it’s important to be clear about who will be responsible for carrying out a specific task. Without designating the responsible party, we miss out on accountability. Without accountability, cracks can form in any plan.

As you are thinking about what will be done, the details matter a great deal. The more specific you are, the less chance there will be for a misunderstanding down the line. When future disputes do occur, you are forced to revisit a difficult time of your life—and no one desires this.

Considering when something will happen is essential to making sure that expectations are met. I encourage you as my clients to set timeframes and deadlines, partly to avoid unnecessary pressure amidst an already stressful time, but even more to prevent either of you from feeling that the other is stalling or won’t live up to a commitment.

Where things will happen is particularly relevant in parenting discussions. Often this relates to how children will transition from one parent’s care to the other’s.

Finally, the why of any plan may not always make it into words, but a reason is there. I find clients may need to go through a process of self-examination to be at rest with a particular decision being made. Namely, “Will this address what I need to happen,” “Will this achieve something that I care deeply about,” or “Will this help both of us move forward?”

As your mediator, I am committed to the same standards as a good journalist—to report on what you’ve agreed to with integrity and accuracy.