I met realtor Helaine Newman at a Women Who Mean Business networking event over the summer and knew right away that I wanted her to write a guest blog post for Little Falls Mediation. Helaine is full of life and personality and is a lot of fun to be around. She is smart, highly successful in her field, and extremely knowledgeable, When she is not working, you can find her kayaking, biking, hiking, and engaging in adventures all over the world.
When my 25 year marriage broke up, I found myself 53 years old and suddenly single. There are many challenges when you find yourself single and alone after a long term marriage. Financial, emotional, and social changes are inevitable. Today, my focus will be on the social challenges. These challenges do not just apply to divorce but also resonate for people whose spouses have died or whose children have left the nest.
At the time I left my marriage, I had many friends. Unfortunately, most of them were married. I had a lot of support from my friends. They were happy to meet me on a Tuesday afternoon for lunch, but they were not willing to hang out with me on a Saturday night. I quickly realized that I had to make some changes if I wanted to have a active social life!
I talked to various friends and searched for resources to get me “out there” so I could make new, single friends. I quickly discovered meet-ups, which are organized, interest-based groups. No matter what your interests are, there are meet-ups out there for you. There are biking, hiking, cultural, art, wine, sports and dining meet-ups. There are even age based meet-ups. For example, there is a meet-up called 50+ Active, Fitness, Fun and Friends.
I joined meet-ups, biking groups, and other clubs. The important thing was that I went into these groups with intention. Whenever I would meet someone with whom I felt I had some kind of bond, I would be sure to get his or her contact information and reach out. Before long, I had many single friends with similar interests in my age group. I never had to spend a Saturday night alone again.
Try not to get hung up on worrying that you are not good at something. Don't be afraid to try something new. I met many of my new friends on group bike rides. While I love to bike, I am always the one bringing up the rear. Let’s just say that I like to stop and smell the roses. When the group would gather and would talk about the pace and who would sweep from behind, I would raise my hand and say, “Please don’t wait for me because I am slow and will be riding behind.” Inevitably two or three other women would shout out, “I’ll ride with her!" Hence, I had my new biking friends.
After being single for awhile, I decided that I wanted to start dating again. Now dating is never easy at any age, but for someone over 50 who lives in the suburbs, dating is particularly challenging. Once again, I felt that the most important thing was to go at the process with intention.
I decided to try the dating sites. I searched through what I thought were my best photos and then got feedback from all of my friends. I painstakingly tweaked my profile until I came up with exactly what I wanted to put out there about myself. I held my breath and dived into the dating world again. Similar to the meet-ups, there are now specialized sites for whatever your interests are. There are religious sites, such as JDate and E-Harmony. There are age appropriate sites like Our Time for the over 50 crowd. Before long, I had a busy, fun and exciting social life and I have never looked back.
The most important thing is to remember to go into all of these social changes and challenges with serious intent, a positive attitude and of course, never forget to smile. Others will be drawn to you and your dance card will fill up, I promise.
Pictured above are Helaine and friends on a recent Backroads trip to California.
The spring semester at George Mason University's Scalia Law School began last week, and I am excited to teach my highly engaged students. It's hard to believe that this semester marks the 6th semester I have been teaching at the law school. (I still have exam anxiety dreams from my time at Georgetown University Law Center.) I have devoted the first three classes of my experiential Mediation course to the study and role play of negotiation. Students will soon observe live mediations at Multi-Door Dispute Resolution in D.C. Superior Court, Small Claims Division. Communication and negotiation play a big part in dispute resolution.
Competitive negotiators tend to do whatever it takes to reach their desired agreement – even at the expense of another person or entity. They are results-oriented and focused on achieving short-term goals quickly. Competitive negotiation assumes win/lose.
Adversarial negotiation tactics work through manipulation. These negotiators use a range of pressure tactics to defeat the other side and get what they want.
Cooperative, collaborative or interest-based negotiation involves parties in an effort to jointly meet each others' needs and satisfy interests. The negotiators focus on attacking the problem posed by the negotiations, not each other, and on brainstorming and evaluating solutions together.
Roger Fisher and Bill Ury wrote the best selling Getting To Yes In 1981 which emphasizes these four principles as the core of interest-based or cooperative negotiation:
• Separate the people from the problem
• Focus on interests, not positions
• Invent options for mutual gain
• Insist on objective criteria
Watch this four minute video that demonstrates how principled negotiation (as opposed to competitive or adversarial negotiation) works:
Ellice Halpern, J.D., is a Virginia Supreme Court certified general and family mediator.