When a relationship is coming to an end, it can be easy for couples to fall into a pattern of high conflict communication. Hurt feelings, anger, and all the other emotions that come with the territory can leave people scrambling to communicate effectively—but effective divorce communication can be essential for protecting your rights and your assets (and save you money).
Usually couples will fall into one of two categories when it comes to divorce communication—they will become reactive or responsive. The difference between these two communication styles usually boils down to perspective.
People that are reactive in their communication are often driven by emotions like anger, fear, or panic (among others). Approaching conflict in a reactive manner can escalate the situation and create additional challenges that impair reaching a resolution.
Responsive communicators tend to use a logical, controlled and efficient approach when dealing with high conflict communication. Being a responsive communicator is a learned skill that takes practice. Recently The Good Men Project published an article by Steve Horsmon that outlined some tactics for becoming more responsive and less reactive.
Horsmon suggests that eye contact and active listening can elevate your communication and help you respond like an adult. He also suggests that treating the conflict as important and not minimizing the other person’s feelings will make the interaction more effective. Horsmon includes some excellent points in his article; you can read it in its entirety here.
As divorce attorneys, we regularly see communication between couples break down. From this experience we have compiled a few common sense tactics that we have found to be successful in divorce communication.
This may seem rudimentary, but it is important. Even if you disagree with what the other party is saying, let them finish before you share your point of view. Interrupting people is a sure-fire way to put them on guard and escalate the discussion.
Be nice, and if you can’t be nice, then at least be polite
Regardless of how you feel about your soon-to-be ex, rely on good manners to guide your conversation. While it might feel good in the moment, rude comments and intentional attempts to get under their skin will only slow down the communication process and might even hurt your case.
Oftentimes couples going through a divorce find it difficult to interact without the situation getting heated. If this is the case, relying on email can be beneficial. By keeping interactions strictly digital, you can allow yourself time to create an appropriate response and revise your message before hitting send. Additionally, communicating by email will create a log of your communication that may be advantageous to your divorce case.
Communicating with your ex during the divorce process can be challenging and every situation is unique. Working to improve your communication can make the divorce process smoother and positively impact other areas of your life. It may seem like a daunting task, but it is worth the effort.Disclaimer – The materials posted in this blog are for informational purposes only. The information presented is general in nature, and may not apply to particular factual or legal circumstances. The information presented here does not constitute legal advice or opinions and should not be relied upon as such.