The way we communicate is a big part of how we see and deal with the people around us. Most people who file for divorce had a communication meltdown at one point or another. It’s more than usual… when emotions run high, we are stressed out, angry, disappointed, frustrated even, our communication skills usually one of the first things to suffer.
Unproductive communication like yelling, abusive language, name-calling, withholding information, or even shutting down not only complicate the divorce process, it also is unhelpful for everyone involved.
This blog article helps you improve or highlight any lousy communication skills (and it is a skill because we CAN change our communication style).
Although I am not a psychologist, as a Divorce Lawyer, I can tell you that research shows that a Collaborative Divorce process can improve your communication style.
A few tips to get you started would be to:
1) Consider your tone! When frustrated and angry, people fall in familiar patterns of communication, sarcasm, yelling, or even the sound of your voice can lead to ineffective communication. Make sure you speak with respect and talk as if you are talking to someone you like to impress, someone you want to sway your way. See it as a job interview if you must! When you control the atmosphere by creating an open and respectful conversation, and remember harsh tones, hurtful feelings or abuse words have no place in this process.
2) Set boundaries! Decide how often you will communicate with each other. Set the time, duration, and expectations. This will help you avoid acting impulsively, or high on emotions. It will also keep everyone from feeling that there is too frequent or infrequent communication and diminishes any frustration paired with that.
3) Focus on the Issue at hand! Divorces are not easy, and they bring out the worst in us. We are high on emotions. We are frustrated, and sometimes we will lose our tempers, not because we plan to, but because we feel lost, frustrated, or even bitter about the whole process. When we focus on the issues at hand, we effectively avoid all the baggage that we carry with us. The change of “straying” to a different topic due to frustration will be significantly diminished.
4) Use a Mediator or Mental Health Specialist! Having a third party (neutral) professional in the conversation will help highlight our style of communication, it will allow us to understand what the other one is saying. Sometimes we hear but do not understand the other person due to differences in communication style. Having a “translator” helps!
5) Getting a “Vent-Buddy”! If your attorney has not yet recommended it, you should get a Therapist anyways! Divorces are hard; many unpleasant emotions will pop up. Our prior relationship with our spouse causes some, some just of how we grew up. Getting to understand yourself better will help you know your communications style. That said: Do NOT use your kids as a “vent-buddy,” they should not carry your or your exes baggage! Find a friend, a therapist, or even a pet!
6) You are now a co-parent! You are not competitive parenting! Pay attention to what you do and why! Do not let other people drive you to do things that you would not have done in less stressful times!
Please understand that these are just six suggestions to improve your communication style. As with everything, change takes time, every relationship is different, and always put your children first! What we do now will shape our children’s reality and the way they love, communicate, and parent down the line.
If you have any questions about collaborative divorce or another family law issue, GP Schoemakers, PLLC is more than happy to assist; you can reach us at 832.408.0505 or find us on at or schedule your initial consultation here. We’ll help you decide whether it makes sense to avoid probate in your particular case and, if so, the best way to do so. We hope this article has helped you and your family shape a better tomorrow.