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On Reducing the Gap Between You and Your Former Spouse

by Susanna Jani
July 2011

Distance Family Mediation by Susanna Jani

Susanna Jani

“Coincidence” knocked on my door again a few days ago. I had literally just finished reading James Hollis’ What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life (Penguin Books, 2009) when what appears in my Inbox but a notification about a new post on one of my favourite blogs, Ben Ziegler’s Collaborative Journeys.

Why do I call this coincidence? It just so happened that in his post Ben tackled what seems to be the very same question which Hollis repeatedly comes back to in his book, albeit from a Jungian analytic practitioner’s point of view: What can you do to reduce the gap between yourself and others?

Here is Ben’s post, reprinted in its entirety (with his permission – thank you, Ben!):

Reduce the gap: Integrate thinking and doing
Sometimes the gap between people seems so big that no common ground exists, no collaborative solution possible.

Sort of like the current gap between U.S. Democrat and Republican politicians, negotiating the national debt? Or maybe the gap in a project team, in which teamwork is just a notion? Or, maybe the gap between businesses, or family, involved in a dispute?

And yet, individuals, organizations, and communities do find ways to reduce the gap, build consensus, and reach agreement.

One of the best habits to foster, for reducing the gap, is a “learning” mindset.

A learning mindset aims to integrate thinking and doing. We have thoughts. We act on them. We get feedback. We adapt… move closer, reduce the gap.

The way to getting it done, say Roger Fisher & Alan Sharp, is to integrate thinking and doing, the “sunlight of thought” with the “sea of activity.” An iterative process, incremental, one step at a time, is usually the shortest path to success, resolution, and reducing the gap.

And this learn as you go approach is not just about learning from our mistakes. It might be better to learn from success… you know what worked, you can do it again, and the next time… you’ll probably do it even better. That’s the philosophy throughout ReWork, a wonderful little book by the authors of the 37signals suite of software products, and one of my favourite how-to reads of this year.

In learning organizations; prototyping, experimenting, piloting… are ways to integrate thinking and doing. In your community, there are likely many ways. And, as individuals, we do the same; try things out, get traction from what worked, build our future, one step at a time.

Integrating thinking and doing is an adaptive strategy. In living systems, it equates with survival. In uncertain times, is there any other way?

What say you… is there a better way to reduce the gap?


For a decade, Susanna Jani was Roster Administrator for the B.C. Mediator Roster Society*, managing its day-to-day operations, activities and projects, including the initial research phase of the Distance Family Mediation Project. In 2009, she followed her passion for this environmentally-friendly project and became Project Coordinator for its second, pilot phase which tested the delivery of distance family mediation services in remote, non-urban areas of British Columbia. She remains Project Coordinator for the current, province-wide test phase of the Distance Family Mediation Project. Prior to her work for the Society, Susanna worked as an independent researcher, conducting field research and providing data analysis and interpretation for evaluations and projects relating to justice, employment, social and family services.

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Additional articles by Susanna Jani