Why Rina

mediation lawyer Rina M. Goodman

Rina M. Goodman

Mediation Lawyer Rina M. Goodman

When I listen, I really listen. I listen for communication disconnects, misunderstandings and misperceptions, shared or divergent values, misinformation, and other matters that make a meeting of the minds difficult to accomplish. I point out patterns of interaction that are constructive and patterns of interaction that undermine the parties’ goals and therefore will benefit from a bit of redirection. These “interventions” often result in “aha” moments that enable clients to move beyond mistrust and anxiety.

I am committed to transparency and self-reflection in my work. Mediators are human, of course, so naturally we have our own biases and triggers. As a practitioner whose work requires constant vigilance against any loss of impartiality, I am constantly mindful of my responses to the conflict to ensure that I am not becoming invested in the outcome or influencing it.

I personalize each process so that it suits the participants and the situation. Before engaging clients in a mediation process or facilitated conversation, I conduct a pre-conference session to review and sign the agreement to mediate, design the process, and to discuss the next steps for moving forward.

I am tenacious and hopelessly optimistic. I care deeply about helping my clients achieve mutually satisfying solutions—even when the conflict feels intractable.

— Rina M. Goodman

When you work with me, there’s a higher likelihood that you’ll create long-term solutions that everyone will feel good about.

Thank you for taking this journey with us. Mediation was successful. Our relationships are in a better place. Despite not expecting to have much of a relationship with [our son] moving forward, we feel at peace knowing he knows we love him and will always welcome him home.

The work you do is so important. We felt at such a loss before engaging in mediation. The process really helped us grapple with the mistakes we made and accept the things we can’t change. In the end we feel prepared to move forward. Whatever that looks like.

~ Clients with estranged adult child regarding their facilitated conversation

“You were absolutely great! Bless you for all your kindness — the fruit, cookies, water, patience, direction, and gems of wisdom. You are a true peace maker!”

— Jennifer S., regarding a family mediation about trust property

“From the outset, my husband and I knew we wanted a collaborative process in seeking our divorce. There were a few issues that were particularly sticky when it came to finances, in particular. But Rina helped us listen to each other and the open environment led to a lot of ‘out-of-the-box’ ideas that eventually created our solutions. It took time. But it was time very well spent. My ex-husband and I are still not only on speaking terms, but have retained a lot more good will toward the other than we could have imagined at the outset.”

— Sherri S.

“All in all, I would say it was a positive experience because of the genuine concern and empathy you show for your clients, Rina. You went above and beyond to make sure we felt understood and that things we’re being clearly understood when it came to our mutual finances and agreements.

“You were always great at steering us towards other professionals who could assist us when we had concerns or questions. I really appreciated that, Rina.

“Thanks so much for all you did for us. I was thankful to get to know you as a warm kindhearted person and a very professional and highly capable mediator.”

— Vicki D.

“I want to extend a big thank you to Rina for working with our team. Communication had broken down and everyone was feeling hurt and undervalued in their work. Rina opened up the lines of communication, providing a safe space for each of us to feel heard and not just listen to, but truly understand, what each other were feeling and perceiving. We developed common goals and expectations around communication and it is now better than we ever imagined it could be. As a result, each of us has improved in our roles and as a team.”

— Katy C., employee, small non-profit organization in Seattle, WA

“Above all, Rina is dedicated to balance in the mediation process. Her exquisite sense of service to the parties (and their children) is moving. Her delicate touch at challenging the mediating parties to carefully listen and re-state their opinions and positions was equally helpful.”

— Dale G.

Rina Goodman on Parenting: A Field Guide


It is a rare person who isn’t stricken by grief, fear, and bewilderment when first learning of his or her imminent divorce. Who wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the earth’s sudden shift on its axis, a jolting of reality that is best explained by the word, “surreal?” It isn’t only about dividing your real and personal property and determining how debts of the marriage are going to be paid. It’s not just about figuring out where the children will live, how you will be able to care for them as a single parent, or the innumerable other uncertainties that you suddenly have to contend with. One moment you were feeling whole, content, and confident about your place in the universe. You knew who you were, felt part of a tribe, and had a fairly good notion of where you were going. In a moment, all of this was gone.

While it probably is unimaginable to you that life will bring you joy again, perhaps you will take comfort in knowing that, if you’re like most people in your situation, your ability to accurately gauge how you will feel once you are on your own or single-parenting, is a bit out-of-whack. Curiously, however, it’s not only those who experience life-changing events who suck at anticipating their emotional responses to something that will (or may) occur in the future. None of us are particularly good at this!

In their article, “Affective Forecasting,” social psychologists Daniel Gilbert and Timothy Wilson discuss the underlying causes of this psychological phenomenon. According to Gilbert and Wilson, “the tendency to overestimate the enduring impact that future events will have on our emotional reactions” known as “impact bias” has a number of causes. Among these, the authors explain, is our failure to consider the ameliorating impact of our psychological immune system when we are imagining how we will respond to a future negative event. Our psychological immune system, without our awareness, helps us make sense of negative events so that our emotional response is lessened. Some common examples are thoughts such as, “I never really loved him”, “We weren’t getting along anyway”, and “I would not have been able to go back to school anyway; it’s all for the best.”

Another reason why we tend to be faulty predictors of our future emotional well-being is related to the problem of focalismWhen we imagine how a future painful event will emotionally impact us, we tend to focus on the event itself and therefore don’t consider how more positive events in our lives, such as the birth of a grandchild or support from close friends and relatives, will buffer the pain we are anticipating.

What does all this mean? It means that as difficult as life can be, we don’t necessarily crumble to pieces when the difficult, terrible things happen in our lives. Just as life marches on, more likely than not we will pick ourselves up and move on, too. We will do this because, after all, we are resilient creatures with a great capacity for enjoying our lives even after a tragedy befalls us.

Hat tip to Jena Pincott, who posted “Why Breaking Up Is Easier Than You Think” here.

Certainty image

You can’t know exactly what’s going on in your neighbor’s house or in his head or his heart. You can make suppositions, you can make assumptions, but you always have to factor in that you can’t know. 
~Interview with John Patrick Shanley, playwright

What does it mean to feel “certain?” Is it knowledge? Intuition? In his article, “The Certainty Epidemic”Robert A. Burton, M.D., neurologist and author of On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not, writes:

[Modern biology] is telling us that despite how certainty feels, it is neither a conscious choice nor even a thought process. Certainty and similar states of “knowing what we know” arise out of primary brain mechanisms that, like love or anger, function independently of rationality or reason. Feeling correct or certain isn’t a deliberate conclusion or conscious choice. It is a mental sensation that happens to us.

Why is it important for us to know this? Mr. Burton informs us:

If science can shame us into questioning the nature of conviction, we might develop some degree of tolerance and an increased willingness to consider alternative ideas — from opposing religious or scientific views to contrary opinions at the dinner table.

Being a bit behind the times, my husband and I finally found the time to see the movie Doubt, John Patrick Shanley’s screen adaptation of his play, Doubt, A Parable. A shameless Meryl Streep admirer, I naturally observed this movie through the eyes of her character, Sister Aloysius, a very stern and righteous school principal.

Sister Aloysisus suspects Father Flynn, a charismatic priest who is trying to loosen up some of the school’s outdated traditions, of engaging in sexual activities with one or more of the young male students. Although she has no evidence to support her belief, she sets out to expose the priest, her steadfast determination not wavering, despite explanations strongly suggesting a contrary conclusion.

Father Flynn (scene in Doubt): You have not the slightest proof of anything.

Sister Aloysius: But I have my certainty, and armed with that I will go to your last parish and the one before that if necessary. I will find a parent. Trust me, I will–a parent who probably doesn’t know that you are still working with children. And once I do that you will be exposed. You may even be attacked, metaphorically or otherwise.

So convinced is she of the young priest’s guilt, so sure of her feelings that are in the very gut of her being, it does not occur to her that she might be mistaken.

How can we prevent ourselves from falling into the trap of such narrow thinking that we are blind to the possibility that we are indeed mistaken? How should we manage ourselves when we are so strongly convinced of the truth of our beliefs or hunches? Robert Burton’s answer in an interview with Scientific American suggests that we adopt a dash of inquisitiveness and a teaspoon of humility:

Intuitions, gut feelings and hunches are neither right nor wrong but tentative ideas that must then be submitted to empirical testing. If such testing isn’t possible . . . then we must accept that any absolute stance is merely a personal vision, not a statement of fact.