Skills for Peacemaking - Teamwork and Trust

March 20, 2018

Teamwork and Trust 


There is teamwork between family members in resolving a divorce. There is also teamwork among the professionals helping the families.  There are recurrent themes in teamwork that are important building blocks to success.




Families have intimate histories and times of closeness and trust.  But very often there is lack of trust at the beginning of a divorce.  The expectation of “forever after” has been shattered and even that basic trust is broken.  


Professional teams helping families also work and train together to become trusted colleagues.


Trust is confidence.  The opposite of trust is suspicion.  Being able to trust makes the work most efficient.  In most cases trust can be restored with meticulous truth-telling, follow-through and accountability.  Honest conversation about how trust was broken is also essential, especially to see where we all can take some responsibility.  These are conversations we can have as peacemakers.


Steven Covey in The Speed of Trust describes the trust building process in waves.  The first wave is self-trust, or credibility. The second wave is relationship trust, or consistent behavior. The third wave is organizational trust, or alignment.  It works from the inside out.


Not Being Attached to Outcome


There is a level of trust called “transactional trust” that depends upon each party performing as expected.  When this is broken the impulse is to be adversarial and suspicious. Transactional trust is conditional.


Deeper than that is the possibility of “innate trust”.   That is confidence that if you are operating in accordance with your values and staying present, your life will unfold in a harmonious manner. Your trust is not conditional upon the actions of another or a certain outcome.


In peacemaking processes we are advised to go through the steps of negotiation without being attached to the outcome, to be as open-minded and open-hearted as possible.  In the end, of course, you will make a decision but the processing is honest, open and not positional.

Trust in Process


There is much care taken to make sure parties understand the processes, the benefits and the risks of each.  This is informed consent. It’s required that the professionals make sure about this. It’s also important that the parties are “all in”, that they are willing to take the risk that it won’t settle and might still end up in court.   We all need to know that commitment to this process is strong.


Peacemaking is an opportunity for people to grow, to accept responsibility and for the potential of apology and forgiveness. If they are given space and a secure environment, we find people naturally seek out their capacity for goodness. They must feel safe to discuss their concerns and interests.  Once fear of vulnerability is removed, people can aspire to their higher good and find excellent solutions.


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