Building Blocks of Effective Communication After Divorce
Let's face it: communicating with an ex-spouse or partner isn't always easy. Communicating effectively is often easier said than done. Feelings of anger, confusion, or nerves can make it difficult to actually say what you want or need to say. While you may have ended your relationship, communicating with an ex-spouse or partner may still be necessary such as in a situation where kids are involved. For the sake of giving your children a happier, healthier childhood with both of their parents involved, applying effective communication techniques to your conversations with your co-parent will be to your advantage.
The building blocks of effective communication after divorce begin with making a commitment to raise your kids together and to create the best possible environment for them to thrive in. Remembering your commitment can help you and your co-parent to maintain a goal for what you hope to achieve in your parenting partnership. With your focal point always in mind, you can then turn your attention towards building up the other blocks of effective communication.
Effective communication greatly relies on language and word choice. Saying the wrong thing at the wrong time can quickly turn a conversation down a path you wish you hadn't chosen. Words can sometimes be misconstrued and given new meaning by the listener, so it is important to choose wisely. Choose the right words to properly convey what you need to say. Avoid language that serves no other purpose than to hurt the other person. This would include name calling or other vulgar language.
Just like how word choice is important, the way you deliver those words is just as relevant towards building effective communication. Your method of delivery, tone of voice, and timing are all aspects to consider when communicating. Choose a method that allows you to accurately deliver your message. Depending on what you're talking about and how well you communicate verbally with your co-parent, face-to-face or phone conversations might not always be the best way to convey certain messages. Written communication may serve some co-parents better, as it allows you to converse at a distance. This may give you more confidence to say what you mean more clearly. Even when using written communication as your method of choice, tone still carries a lot of weight. The tone of written communication isn't all based on word choice; punctuation speaks volumes. Using all capital letters, quotation marks, underlining, and other punctuation marks can change the tone of your written voice in a way that you may not have intended it to. Avoid excessive use of dramatic punctuation. Finally, timing can have a huge impact on how a person receives a message. During a parenting time exchange probably isn't the right time to broach touchy subjects with your co-parent. Keep more serious conversations reserved for times when you and your co-parent can properly focus on the matter at hand without putting your kids in the middle of conflict. Written methods of communication often provide a good solution for conversing about more serious topics, as a paper trail of your conversation will remain so that you can turn to it in the future if necessary.
There are times to talk, and there are times to listen. It is often true that moments of listening are just as–if not more–crucial to building effective communication after divorce. When you did not properly hear what the other person had to say, how are you supposed to make an adequate response? Be attentive during conversations with your co-parent, listening carefully or completely reading messages you receive. Don't jump to respond. Take a moment to take in what you've heard, then formulate your response. If you don't know what to say or feel as if you're about to explode, it is okay to say that you need to talk about this later. Don't forget the conversation, though. Come back to it when you are ready to focus and give a calm, effective response.
"Practice makes perfect", so the saying goes. While "perfect" may be a stretch when it comes to how well you communicate with your co-parent, putting these building blocks into practice will help you to achieve and maintain effective communication over time. Commit yourself to regularly checking in with your co-parent about things having to do with your kids. Plan for these conversations ahead of time in order to allow yourself to better focus on the topic at hand. Be consistent about sharing any concerns you have right away instead of allowing something that's bothering you to grow into something bigger. Maintaining open lines of communication will help you and your co-parent to better address the needs of your children as a team, instead of unknowingly countering each other's efforts.
As long as you are dedicated to creating a better life for your kids, the building blocks of effective communication after divorce are easy to put into practice. Language, delivery, listening, and consistency are elements that can help to improve the way that you and your co-parent communicate, which will also help you to build a more solid relationship as partners in parenting.
The OurFamilyWizard® website offers tools and templates to help co-parents better focus and organize communication. Help build the framework for effective communication with your co-parent by signing up today.