Your Washington Divorce with better Communication
They say that habits are hard to break. It is the lack of communication or the style of communication that usually causes the relationship to deteriorate and sometimes become hostile. When going through a divorce and even after the divorce is final you will still need to communicate with your ex and talk about parenting, finances, holidays, illnesses, school issues and other aspects of daily life. Unfortunately, going through the legal process often times increases the resentment, anger, and power struggles. Failure to communicate effectively even after the divorce is final will just lead to more or even increased heated exchanges.
Instead of feeling like you would rather be ran over by a truck than to talk to your ex, follow the three key strategies that was written in a recent article by Nancy Kay, a Divorce Management Coach who provides Strategic Guidance for people who are navigating through divorce. She identified 3 key strategies for better communication.
Here are 3 Key Strategies to put into action when trying to communicate more effectively with a difficult ex:
1. Clearly identify what your post divorce position is: Knowing ahead of time which issues you are willing to be flexible about and which ones you absolutely won’t budge on is important because dealing with a difficult ex requires establishing very clear and firm boundaries that need to be consistently upheld long term. Once your ex finally realizes that you cannot be bullied, rushed, pressured or manipulated into changing your mind on your key issues and you consistently take the same firm positions over time, there is less opportunity for repetitive arguments to flare up.
2. Insist on Civil Communication: Although changing the way your ex communicates with you is beyond your control, you can change the way you interact with your ex. By keeping verbal exchanges as brief as possible, screening your phone calls and responding only to emails that aren’t hostile or demeaning, you are setting the tone for what you are willing to respond to from your ex. You can also encourage more respectful interactions by keeping your own messages short, direct and editing out the emotional parts you are tempted to include. One creative way to approach this is to act as if you were writing a ransom note. If you were cutting each word of your message out of magazines, wouldn’t you plan to keep it as brief and to the point as possible?
3. Plan your Responses Ahead of Time: Are you in the habit of reacting right away to whatever your ex dishes out? If so, it is extremely valuable to have some written out statements near your computer and phone for times when you are caught off guard. Having a list that you can rely on will help you to set limits and allow yourself the time you need to clear your mind and think about the issues more objectively before responding to your ex. When replying to emails, allow a full day or more to go by before you reply unless the situation is an emergency. If your ex often sends hostile emails, you may find it helpful to have someone else screen them first. When dealing with your ex in person or on the phone and things begin to escalate, refer to your list of prepared responses which could include the following:
- “I can’t respond to you until you calm down and speak to me in a civil manner.”
- “I need to speak to my lawyer, accountant or other professional before I give you an answer on that.”
- “This conversation is no longer useful, so you’ll soon hear a click on the line.”
It is important to remember that establishing new ways of communicating with a difficult ex takes planning, finding the right strategies and practice over time. Despite your best efforts, you can expect to sometimes slip back into destructive habits, but with on-going determination you should see some results that include less tension, overwhelm and stress. By taking control of the way you respond to your ex, you will gain strength and self-confidence as you begin to develop a more constructive way of dealing with the issues that must be resolved following divorce.