Divorce is truly a world unto its own – a place where we think and behave in ways we never or rarely did before.
Communicating with your ex-partner is one of this new world’s most challenging tasks. Emotions are driving the bus, which makes it difficult for otherwise rational people to stick to the facts when they speak to each other. This can lead to frustration, protracted, ugly exchanges, and the overuse of your legal retainer.
Want to avoid the pitfalls of bad communication during divorce? Here are seven strategies:
- Before you say anything, S.T.O.P.
S = Slow down. Take a second or two to get a read on the situation.
T = Test the waters. Is this a calm sea that will carry you forward, or are you headed for a shipwreck?
O = Consider your options. In any conversation, you have more choices than you think. You can barrel ahead. You can ask for time to cool off. You can reach out to your resources. Or you can just walk away.
P = Plan to progress forward. Ask yourself “what can I do to make this conversation more productive?”
- Ignore comments that push your buttons. You don’t have to respond to provocation. See your options from #1 above – like walking away.
- Don’t start a conflict or add fuel to one that’s already in progress.
- Keep your written communication concise and factual. Use bullet points.
- Leave your emotions at the door. Don’t let your worries, fears, and insecurities color your communication. Think of it as a business deal.
- Speak positively about your ex in front of others, especially your children. If you can’t say anything positive, at least make it neutral.
- Keep attorney communications brief – don’t ramble on and on. Remember, time is money!