Longtime divorce and family attorney Elizabeth Yang is unique among her peers: She actually wants to keep you out of her office.
So much so, she has written several books on the subject, ranging from how to live better in a relationship to how to mediate a divorce and stay out of the legal system.
And most recently, Yang hosted a Saturday afternoon workshop attended by nearly 100 people entitled “Successful Relationships: The secret behind creating love, passion, fun and commitment.”
So, why would a divorce attorney delve into such an area that seems counterproductive to a healthy family law practice? Yang, who is president of Law and Mediation Offices of Elizabeth Yang, said the explanation is very simple.
“I don’t want to see people break up,” she said. “I want to see the positive side of things. So, when I do mediation for clients there is a small percentage who actually want to stay together and not divorce. They clear up their miscommunications. That is the part I love to see. I was able to catch the problem before they made up their mind.”
And why do people end up in her office in the first place?
Yang said the answer is just communication. Or lack of communication. Or miscommunication. But in any of these
scenarios, something isn’t getting across.
“A lot of times people are on the same page, they have the same intentions,” she said. “They misunderstand, they misjudge each other.”
When people do get to her office, Yang makes them undergo communication exercises. One of which is an active listening exercise, which she defines as “listening to understand, not to respond. What am I going to say next? They’re focusing inward. But active listening is listening in a way that allows the other person to be understood, but also allows you to be able to repeat back exactly what the other person said. It’s not easy.”
There is a huge emotional benefit to be able to listen to people, Yang said, that is sometimes difficult to do, but is very simple.
“Sometimes people don’t want an answer,” she said. “They just want to be heard.”
And as far as poor communication goes, the reasons that cause them can be infinite.
“It could be caused by the speaker’s side,” she said. “The speaker may not be a good communicator. Or sometimes you’ll say things that you don’t mean because it just comes out. So, having things reflected back to you is helpful because you can clear up what you meant.”
But with human beings, communication is much more complicated than that.
“So much about communication is interpretation,” Yang said. “Words only make up about 5 percent. The rest is body language and intonation. So, as you can see, that leaves a lot of room open to interpretation.”
In addition, communicating using modern technology creates real problems for couples because most methods leave out too many human elements.
“Texting is the worst,” she said. “In person is, of course, the best, and the phone is OK as at least you have intonation. But text messages can be interpreted in so many ways. And not texting back can be interpreted in so many ways. It can really strain relationships.”
So, as a divorce attorney, does this reach into the relationship world help her business? She emphatically said yes.
“It’s so much easier for a couple that is divorcing to settle their case amicably and through mediation,” she said. “Because if they don’t get along it can drag on and on and I become the person they’re complaining to. And I can also cost thousands of dollars.”
Persons who would like to discuss any aspect of family law can call Law and Mediation Offices of Elizabeth Yang at (877) 492-6452 or log onto www.yanglawoffices.com.