Is it Acceptable to Roll Your Eyes in Mediation?

Author: Steve Benmor

The success of divorce mediation is all about communication. But it is not just our words that we are communicating. Our body language is much louder than our voice. 

If our face, body and mouth are saying the same things, then our message is clear, effective and forceful. Sadly, many clients in divorce mediation say one thing but mean another and their messages are in conflict.

Experienced divorce mediators should be well aware of non-verbal communication.

As a divorce mediator, these are some behaviours I have noticed:

    • Rolling eyes
    • Lack of eye contact
    • Looking away when speaking
    • Arms crossed at the chest
    • Rubbing eyes
    • Unexplainable smiling
    • Covering the mouth or eyes
    • Nail biting
    • Fidgeting 
    • Verbal sighs
    • Looking at the phones

I notice these behaviours to the extent that they may provide authentic insights to any obstacles to settlement.

In the end, I want to help the family and create an environment of safety, voluntariness and open-mindedness as pre-conditions to a divorce settlement. So these tell-tale signs provide me with clues that then become my cue to dig deeper.

I have found that using open-ended questions and active listening builds trust and leads to more engagement. But to get there, as a divorce mediator, I need to recognize the signals of obstruction and work on removing these barriers.

I often coach spouses in divorce mediation to be aware of their facial and body gestures and to think about how the other spouse may interpret their body language. 

In the end, a skilled divorce mediator uses all their skills to help the family resolve their issues.  Knowing how to interpret non-verbal communication is integral to divorce mediation

Picture of Steve Benmor

Steve Benmor

Steve Benmor, B.Sc., LL.B., LL.M. is the founder and principal lawyer of Benmor Family Law Group, a boutique matrimonial law firm in downtown Toronto. He is a Certified Specialist in Family Law and was admitted as a Fellow to the prestigious International Academy of Family Lawyers.

Steve is regularly retained as a Divorce Mediator, Arbitrator and Parenting Coordinator. As a Divorce Mediator, Steve uses his 30 years of in-depth knowledge of family law, court-room experience and expert problem-solving skills in Divorce Mediation to help spouses reach fair, fast and cooperative divorce settlements without the financial losses, emotional costs and lengthy delays from divorce court.