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7 Steps to Magical Conversation


A few weeks ago I posted about Magical Conversations and in that post I promised to share the tool I developed called 7 Steps to Magical Conversation. Here it is:


1: What is the centermost deepest part of your core? What is the one word that springs to mind, that is your essential core value?

2: Take a deep breath and breathe in your core value. Hold the value in your mind as you hold your breath in your chest for as long as is comfortable. Breathe out anything that gets in the way of that value, such as fear, anxiety, apprehension, etc.


3: Set your intention congruent with your core value. What is your intention? Is it a phone call? Is it a meeting? Is it an encounter? Is it a transaction? Remember you have control over your intention.

4: Stay conscious, stay focused, remain unshakeable. The world, events, circumstances, individuals, will attempt to distract and derail you, stay in control.

5: Slow down. Observe silence, listen deeply. Search for the interests behind the declarations, accusations, and statements you hear. Think before you speak, consider what you might say, what you could say, as distinguished from what you should say, in order to achieve the outcome congruent with your core value.

6: Inquire politely. Respond civilly, be courteous, and respectful. Do not accuse, threaten, argue, or object.

7: Express interest, concern, and appreciation. Do not try to fix the problem until requested to do so. Wait for an invitation. Simply allow the matter to conclude with the notion that you have heard completely everything the other is trying to say.

Magical Conversations

serene lake view

Your universe is no bigger than your vocabulary. Your vocabulary is the only limitation to your universe. Words are everything. Every time we open our mouth it is for good, or something else. What comes out of our mouth started in our brain and shaped us. We have no control over others, what they say, what they do. We can only control our own words and actions. We can only control what we say and what we do. That we can control, and it shapes us, and forms us as well.

You chose to be where you are today, you chose to read this post. This post is intended for like-minded individuals who gather on a regular basis to seek and pursue peace.

I talk a great deal about mediation as an alternative to litigation. That is because mediation is at the heart of creating peace, making peace, and building peace. By listening, ingesting, absorbing and ruminating on the words you read, and the words you speak, you will be changed, transformed, illuminated and enlightened. Each of us shares what he or she knows with the other. Each of us is the “Us” and the “Other”.

Here are a few ideas to share that have profoundly shaped me. You might have already heard some of them. Some of them may be new. If it is old, consider it a reminder. If it is new, pursue and explore so that you may expand and grow. That is the purpose of any of the time that we spend together. It is also important to invest time exploring the ideas of others on the same journey.

Words Can Change Your Brain by Andrew Newberg is easily the most transformative book I have read in years. It teaches the 12 steps to Intimacy and Trust. I share it with you as an invitation to a new life practice in the days and weeks to come.

Consider the newly designed and promulgated Rigidity/Flexibility Continuum. It is a notion I was introduced to at a presentation on the new categories, revisions, and changes to the DSM 5 when it was first published in 2015. The authors recommend dropping labels and observing behavior instead. The idea is to connect consequences to choices by allowing people to know all of their choices and all of the consequences of each choice, they will see more objectively the result of their choices.

Out of this information and material I have designed the Seven Steps to Magical Dialogue, which I will be sharing here soon. I offer it for your consideration in addition to the Rigidity/Flexibility Continuum, which will also be available in the upcoming weeks. Let me know if these are at all helpful, if they assist you in any way, if you are able to use this information in your own professional application.

Khloe and Lamar: Dangerous Oversight

 15-10-30 Lamar & Khloe Header

Thankfully, Lamar Odom appears to be making a complete recovery after being found unconscious at Love Ranch outside of Pahrump, Nevada. But for a time his condition was precarious and the outlook for recovery grim. Although Odom and Khloe Kardashian had filed for divorce in 2013, they had not finalized the matter and are still legally married. Furthermore, it appears that Odom had not executed a new Healthcare Power of Attorney which meant that doctors had to look to Kardashian for direction regarding his medical treatment.

If they thought about it, my guess is that most people would not want their soon-to-be-ex making life and death decisions about their medical treatment. But most people don’t think about it.

I meet with people all the time who are in the midst of a divorce that’s spiraling out of control. They’ve spent thousands of dollars fighting in court and are desperately looking for a way to stop the bleeding, so they come to our office for help. Mediation and Collaborative Law offer a solution to the insanity of court costs and legal fees.

When I meet with these people, one of the questions I ask is, “Who holds your Healthcare Power of Attorney?” This question is often met with a blank stare.

“What do you mean?”

I repeat my question a different way: “If you were in the hospital and could not speak for yourself, who would the doctor turn to for guidance?”

“My parents?” is a common response.

“Great,” I respond, “so you’ve got a signed Healthcare Power of Attorney naming your parents?”

“No,” is the usual answer.

“Well in that case, your soon-to-be-ex has that power. And if you don’t have an interim Estate Plan, they’ll also inherit your share of the property. Is that okay with you?”

Healthcare Powers of Attorney are an important part of any complete Estate Plan, but Estate Plans need to be kept current, and during a divorce, interim planning is critical. But just as people put off Estate Planning, they put off interim planning as well.

If your Estate Plan is out-of-date, update it now. If you don’t have an Estate Plan, get one right away, but don’t do it “on the cheap.” I recently got a sad call from the long-time companion of an elderly gentleman who’d passed. He’d used an online “trust mill” to draft an Estate Plan. His intentions were that his companion could stay in the house for the rest of her life and after she passed, everything would go to his kids. By saving money on a cheap plan, he inadvertently bypassed her and she got nothing.

For Lamar Odom, things seem to have worked out okay. Others are not that lucky. If you’re going through a divorce, talk to your attorney about interim Estate Planning. If you’re going through the “divorce from hell” talk to a Mediator or Collaborative Attorney about putting an end to the madness.

Thanks for reading,

Ty Supancic
T: 818-348-6700
F: 818-348-6700

An Important California Family Law Update


Beyond brilliant! Amazing! That was my reaction to the presentation of the Honorable Thomas Trent Lewis at the 88th annual California Bar Convention in Anaheim. In his talk, “Domestic Violence in the New Era”, Judge Lewis introduced to California lawyers the idea of “coercive conduct” as an appropriate expansion of domestic violence and spousal abuse. He pointed out that Family Code section 6320 expands the definition of spousal abuse to include activity such as: stalking, digital harassment, and any other pattern of deliberate conduct intended to harm, frighten, irritate, or upset the intended victim of said abuse. Such conduct need not be recent or physical. All that is required is that as a result of the conduct, the victim is in reasonable fear of his or her safety, or the safety of an immediate family member. Contact is considered a credible threat if delivered by electronic means, such as cell phones, computers, video recorders, or fax machines. Under California Civil Code 1708.7 a perpetrator is potentially liable to the victim for general damages, special damages, and punitive damages.

This is a far cry from days of past, when you had to show police blood to get any relief at all. The law has made significant strides in the direction of reducing and eliminating spousal abuse in recent years. Judge Lewis admonished lawyers to download from the Internet the “Power and Control” wheel, which depicts the progressive stages of domestic violence that begin with coercive control, move into threats and intimidation, emotional and financial abuse, and ultimately ends with physical violence that can result in death. Enactment of the federal Violence Against Women Act makes clear this is an issue of national concern rising above mere local interests. Under current law, the occurrence of domestic violence and spousal abuse now has far reaching consequences including competency for co-parenting and liability for expanded support obligations for both the other party and the minor children.

It is more important than ever for lawyers to become familiar with the differences in the levels of domestic violence and spousal abuse in their cases. It has been the case for some time that abuse of a parent in the presence of a minor constitutes child abuse, per se. Most parents in high-conflict divorces are all too often oblivious to the irreparable harm caused to their children by their unconscionable behaviors.

Huge kudos to Judge Lewis for this brilliant and timely presentation.

Warm Regards,

Ronald M. Supancic, CFLS
The Law Collaborative, APC
t: 818-348-6700
f: 818-348-0961

His Vision, Our Practice

15-11-04 His Vision, Our Practice

Recently, my father was interviewed about the AAML’s Child Centered Residential Guidelines, a comprehensive and insightful publication that addresses some of the most important issues in Family Law. I am proud of his endorsement of this material, and glad that the spotlight is shining on children’s issues. Ron’s interview was published on Reuters, Yahoo Finance, the Daily News, and over a hundred other media outlets, highlighting the importance of a value our firm was founded on: keeping people whole.

The publication encourages mindfulness and offers solutions that can reduce stress and tension that naturally accompany a very painful process. A recent documentary, Divorce Corp., highlights the common fear of losing everything you have to the legal system. The current legal system is mired in a “win/lose” model of dispute resolution, which entrenches parties deeper and deeper in confrontational posturing, ironically depleting the very assets they are fighting so hard to protect.

To what end does the constant fighting lead us? What toll does this have on the people involved? Having witnessed it first hand for over forty years, my father has championed Mediation and Collaborative Law as a remedy for this unnecessary destruction of families. The process of divorce may be the most traumatic experience someone goes through in their life, but in Collaborative Law and Mediation we have the tools to protect those who are embarking on this arduous journey.

I am proud to say that my father has been on the cutting edge of the conscious uncoupling movement. I am even prouder to say that he is not alone.

Thanks for reading,

Ty Supancic The Law Collaborative, APC
t: 818-348-6700
f: 818-348-0961

Workplace Conflict Solutions


On Thursday, July 9th, the Sovereign Health Group in Culver City hosted an introductory workshop to Workplace Conflict Solutions. This workshop has been developed over the past decade by the conflict professionals at the Law Collaborative. The assembled mental health professionals gathered enthusiastically to learn more about conflict resolution strategies, tactics, and techniques for conflict avoidance and dispute resolution through the application of imaginative and creative tools developed and designed for the specific needs of family oriented businesses.

The Law Collaborative primarily handles family law and divorce, and the tools we’ve developed in an effort to settle these sometimes high conflict cases are extremely effective. The trials and tribulations so familiar to family settings are no stranger to the TLC team. Communication errors are common. Misunderstanding seems to be a normal part of every day life. So what do we do? How do we manage the emotional meltdown in a way that lessens loss and maintains productivity? The purpose of the workshop is to teach those skills and provide those essential tools. What do you do when there is a meltdown? What do you do to prevent a meltdown? How do you handle conflict, combat, and competition in the work place?

These are very important questions that are discussed and answered in the 90 minute workshop I gave at Sovereign Health. Please contact me if you think this workshop would benefit your company. I’d be honored to present to your staff, co-workers, and colleagues.

Very truly yours,

Ronald Melin Supancic
Certified Family Law Specialist
The Law Collaborative, APC
T: (888) 852-9961  F(888) 852-9962 

Are Your Legal Affairs in Order for the New Year?

15-01-14 Newsletter_Header_Legal-Check-list

A friend recently and unexpectedly died.  His wife had asked him many times if he had written down his last wishes.  He assured her that he had, but they never discussed where he kept this document.  It has been several months since his death and the document he claimed to have written has not been found.  Neither his accountant or business manager had a copy.  Drawers, books, computers, and the safety deposit box were searched without luck.  As a result, his estate was sent to Probate which has caused unnecessary delays, added legal fees, and unnecessary taxes.  That was not what he wanted.

Have you expressed your last wishes clearly?  Are these intentions written down?  Where do you keep your Health Care directives and your Estate Planning documents?  Where do you keep your Will?  Where do you keep your Passwords?  Do you have a single place in which you store all your vital information?  Does your spouse or executor know where this is? 

Now is a good time to make sure these steps have been taken; review your Estate Plan, update your information, notify your heirs of your wishes.  If you haven’t completed these tasks, call us today. 

For the remainder of this month, The Law Collaborative is offering a free, 30-minute consultation as a way of helping you move forward with handling these important affairs. Feel free to call us directly and schedule your appointment.

Your friend,


Ronald Melin Supancic
Certified Family 
Law Specialist
The Law Collaborative, APC
T: (888) 852-9961  F: (888) 852-9962 

Once In a Lifetime, a Book Comes Along That Changes Your Life

14-06-11 Ken Cloke Book Review

The Dance of Opposites, a new book by Dr. Kenneth Cloke, will change your life. You will never view conflict the same way again. If you only read one more book on the theory and practice of conflict resolution, make it this one. Dr. Cloke’s explorations in mediation, dialogue, and conflict resolution systems are revolutionary.    

Dr. Cloke quotes Albert Camus, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.”  It is clear that his new vision for conflict resolution intends to do just that. 

The chapter, “Elements of a New Vision,” takes us on a journey toward a comprehensive conflict resolution system that constitutes a fundamental transformation in the way we disagree and resolve our differences as a species. His imperatives are inarguable as we look upon today’s world to observe the senseless killing that is characteristic of so many cultures on our planet. It is not surprising that this book comes from the same person who founded Mediators Beyond Borders some years ago.

The “Elements of the Language of Conflict” chapter leads us into a clear understanding of why it may be inevitable that our species’ troubles frequently begin with thoughtless use of language. Misinformation, misunderstanding, confusion, and incorrect interpretation is integral to the language of conflict that is a style of communication based on combat. We must rethink the whole essence of our ability to communicate.

Dr. Cloke offers clear and convincing evidence of both the problem and a proposed solution that will be of immense interest to practicing attorneys who usually regard themselves as masters of communication. My experience is that most lawyers must continue to study skillful communication styles. 

From language, Dr. Cloke moves into the narrative structure of conflict. His illustrative stories explain the “20 Ways to Transform Conflict.” This chapter alone is worth the price of the book. He clearly sets forth the process for building bridges between the psychology of conflict and the implications for the mediator who must  learn to navigate the crucial distinctions that typically separate parties engaged in conflict. 

The conflict resolution questions in Chapter Five, “10 Steps to Transcendence” in Chapter Six, and “Heartfelt Communications in Conflict Resolution Systems,” discussed in Chapter Seven, are capable of forever altering our approach to working with families. Solutions come by way of study, insight, understanding, and awareness. The author provides clear, express, concrete tools to accomplish this. 

This is a must-read for AAML Fellows working in this most difficult area of conflict resolution. The final chapters on Mediation, Law, and Justice are superb. Dr. Cloke’s experience studying Chinese mediation techniques in the eastern hemisphere offer amazing insights into that culture, as well as valuable pointers to the practitioner for improving quality of service. His understanding of both process and protocol have guided him in this new direction that is worthy of our study and consideration.

One hundred years from now the present process used to resolve conflict will be recognized a obsolete.  Dr. Cloke’s book will help us move forward to create a positive difference in our contemporary culture.  That is the message.  That is the challenge.  That is the opportunity.  Read the book The Dance of Opposites.

Your friend,

Ronald Melin Supancic
Certified Family Law Specialist
The Law Collaborative, APC
T: (888) 852-9961  F: (888) 852-9962

Divorce Court: What the Judge Wants to See and Hear

14-03-12 Newsletter Divorce Court

Recently my son and fellow attorney, Ty, accompanied me to a dinner hosted by CPA firm White, Zuckerman, Warzavsky, Luna, Wolf, and Hunt, where the Honorable Judge Lloyd C. Loomis was the guest of honor.  Judge Loomis shared his “Do’s and Don’ts” for clients and lawyers; in other words, What the Judge Wants to See and Hear.  Whether you are an attorney, client, or other professional, I believe this will be a valuable read:

In court, deadlines are of the essence.  The party who has filed timely obtains a distinct advantage in the courtroom.  Clients sometimes put off filling out Income and Expense declarations; there are very good reasons why your lawyer asks you to fill out forms, and the sooner, the better.  Also, honesty is absolutely necessary. 

Judge Loomis suggests that lawyers can do a better job of educating their clients about what to expect when they appear in court.  In his experience, it is not unusual for the parties to seem confused and frustrated by the process.  Such feelings are natural when parties are under stress, but having information will make the process easier.  If you have questions about court, ask your lawyer.  They will be happy to answer them.  What exactly is a ‘Meet and Confer?’  Judge Loomis finds that it’s something many lawyers ignore, and many parties object to.  Meet and Confer provisions are part of the Code of Civil Procedure.  Before appearing in court, lawyers and parties ought to meet and confer with each other in a sincere effort to settle matters.  Failing to meet and confer in good faith inevitably leads to a waste of time and legal fees.

When dealing with child custody, Judge Loomis puts the well-being of children first. He wants to see co-parenting plans that emphasize frequency and regularity of visits for both parents, and he believes it is healthier for siblings to stay together rather than be split between parents.  He appreciates custody plans that plan ahead; too often the plans seem designed only to solve an immediate problem and not to address changes and challenges that may appear in the years ahead.

Most importantly, civility, between lawyers and between parties, is important in court.  Some clients wonder why their lawyers are being friendly and polite to each other and to opposing party.  The California State Bar “Guidelines of Civility and Professionalism” require this behavior, and so does our society.  Judge Loomis wants to see those rules followed in his courtroom.  In a divorce case, a lawyer who observes these rules sets an example for those he deals with.  Face it, as a society, we need more civility.  If you’re curious, the Guidelines can be found in the “Civility Toolbox” in the Ethics section of the State Bar Website.

Your friend,

Ronald Melin Supancic
Certified Family Law Specialist
The Law Collaborative, APC
(: (888) 852-9961  F(888) 852-9962 | 

The Raging Bull of Van Nuys


I had an interesting nickname for the first 20 years of my law practice, and I’ll occasionally meet an attorney who may reference my original, aggressive style of litigation. The following should bring some clarity:

Years ago, I appeared on an initial Request for Orders in the Van Nuys Superior Court. A typical Request for Orders involves custody, visitation, interim child and spousal support, attorneys fees, and temporary restraining orders.

The attorney on behalf of the responding party was from Orange County, and introduced himself to me. He was cordial and polite. I invited him to go to the cafeteria to talk about an interim settlement. He agreed, and we asked the court to put the matter on second call. We went to the cafeteria, and, with the help of our clients, settled the entire case. We then returned to the Northwest Department to declare that we had completed the matter: in those few hours in the cafeteria we had worked out a Co-Parenting Plan, an equitable division of assets and liabilities, and permanent support orders to complete the case.

As we waited for the court to take the bench to hear the stipulation, the attorney remarked that he was very surprised. I asked why. He told me, “I’ve never appeared in Van Nuys before. I wanted to get a line on you and your reputation, so I called a friend of mine from law school. He told me you were called ‘the Raging Bull of Van Nuys.’ Imagine my surprise when you extended your hand and invited me to the cafeteria; even more so when we proceeded to settle the entire case.” I responded, “You’re reasonable, intelligent, and you didn’t demand anything to which your client was not entitled. You made a case for your client, and it was reasonable and fair. That’s the best we can ever hope for our clients.”

I’ve thought many times since about that dubious reputation for being a “Raging Bull.” I had certainly never intended to be a raging bull, but I was passionate, and vigorous in my advocacy on behalf of my client. I practiced “take no prisoners” litigation for the first 25 years of my career because, at the time, that’s what law schools taught. However, I was always aware of the damage and destruction caused by the traditional litigation approach, to the families, the clients, and especially their children. I was a child of divorce, so am very aware of the pain that children feel.

I served on the Executive Committee for the San Fernando Bar Association Family Law Committee. The cases in Superior Court were backlogged for up to two years at the time, so we put together a volunteer attorney pro tem program, in order to give relief to the courts. We planned to do small claims appeals, default judgments, and much of the administrative work that prevents judges from hearing trials in a timely manner.

Our committee approached the supervising judge in 1976, the Honorable Charlie Hughes, who listened patiently to our pitch for a volunteer attorney pro tem program. His response: “No. But I’ll tell you what we do need. We need you to create a volunteer mediation project.” Our reaction? “What’s mediation?” It was the first time any of us had heard the word used. (At that time I’d been practicing law for six years.) He explained the process, and we, in turn, created the project. Mediation proved to be so successful in that community that our program was copied in Santa Monica, where it proved equally successful. The supervising judge in the Central Department got wind of the success in Van Nuys and Santa Monica, and wanted to know more. Thus the program was extended to Central, and then to all of the 14 branch courts in L.A. County. That Volunteer Attorney Mediator Program is still in existence today.

I liked what I learned about mediation, because consensual, cooperative problem solving is a kinder, gentler way to solve disputes like divorce. I originally trained as a mediator in 1981, at a California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists conference in San Diego. In 1997, while attending an International Alliance for Holistic Lawyers conference in Santa Fe, I had the opportunity to meet lawyer Stu Webb. He told me about the work that he was doing in Minneapolis through the foundation of the Institute for Collaborative Law. I brought the message of Collaborative Law back to Los Angeles County and I, as well as my clients, have been reaping the benefits of consensual dispute resolution ever since.

Subsequently, I’ve attended many Advanced Professional Skills Programs, such as those held by the Pepperdine University Law School, Strauss Institute for Dispute Resolution, as well as spending several summers training with the Harvard Insight Initiative Project. I believe that Mediation education will never be complete – there are always new skills to learn.

I respect and trust the collaborative approach, cooperative problem solving, and alternative dispute resolution, consensual dispute resolution, interest based bargaining, principal negotiation, and teaching lawyers all of the skills that have been developed through the Harvard Programs of Negotiation:

“Getting to Yes,” “Getting Past No,” and “Difficult Conversations.”

At The Law Collaborative, APC, we approach every case by first reaching out to adverse counsel, to invite him or her to sit down to talk solutions. Sadly, and too often, some lawyers are so caught up in their own personal agendas, that they use their client’s case to attempt to solve their own emotional strife. On those occasions, I may have to let the Bull out of his pen. We can still do it the hard way, but only when it’s in the clients’ best interests.

Thank you for reading,
Ron Supancic, CFLS
The Law Collaborative, APC
T: (818)348-6700
F: (818)348-0961