Tame Your Tongue and Fingers: Five Tips to Better Communication With Your Ex
If you find yourself in a hot-blooded Pennsylvania divorce or PA custody battle with the most irrational, selfish, and reckless human being on the planet, it’s important that you’re careful with your words. And I don’t just mean spoken. Most written letters – whether virtual or paper – last forever. With the advent and rise of screenshots, the ease of email forwarding, and the reliability of copy and paste, nothing that is written is sacred. If you are dealing with a live wire ex who consistently takes you out of character, it’s especially important for you to tame your tongue – and fingers.
In order to make communicating with your ex less painful, it’s important to have a clear picture of the impending conversation and good control of your thoughts, emotions, and words. So, how exactly do you begin to train your tongue and discipline your fingers? Start with these five tips:
- Be brief.
When you’re dealing with the spawn of Satan, small talk can be your enemy. Simply asking, “How are you?” can spark insults, bitter remarks, and promises that no one really intends to keep. Remember. You have a plan for the conversation. Stay focused and behave as if your future judge is listening. Text messages and emails are regularly part of the evidence in Pennsylvania divorce and PA custody trials, and if you say reckless stuff and the judge reads it, it may negatively affect your case.
- Be nice.
While small talk should be reserved for people you actually like (or people you tolerate), manners should be for everyone. There’s nothing wrong with leading your messages with “Please” and ending them with “Thank you.” In fact, being polite will only make you look better – especially if your politeness is met with viciousness from your ex, which happens often. Being nice to someone who hates you is like heaping hot coals on the haters’ head. Works every time.
- Be direct.
Before any conversation with your ex, have a plan. Know exactly what you are trying to get from the conversation, and add nothing additional. No fluff necessary. Fluff can come in the form of blaming, demeaning, insulting, small-talking, or the like. For example, if you are trying to swap custody days so your child can attend his friend’s birthday party, your message should say the following: “Hello. I would like to swap custody days so [insert child’s name] can attend a friend’s birthday party. Please let me know if this works for you. Thank you.” See how brief, direct, and nice?
- Be appropriate.
Anything written to your ex should be rated G – general audience, Y’all. So, if you wouldn’t send the message or letter to your grandma, your pastor, or your best friend, don’t send it. You should maintain a professional tone in all communications, and should never send a picture of anyone or anything other than your children being cute. Feel me?
- Be careful.
So, what happens if you’re on the receiving end of an email that doesn’t follow any of these rules? What do you do when you get a message that is pretty much an incoherent babble of name-calling, blame, and insults? Breath. While your blood is probably boiling and you probably desire to give your ex a large piece of your mind, don’t. Now is not the time to behave immaturely. Take the high road and either ignore the message or, assuming the message has some relevant portions, reply to only the appropriate portions. However, don’t be afraid to write your flagrant reply to your ex in a separate email and save it to drafts. Writing what you’d like to say to him or her can be relaxing and make it easier to write your actual reply.
We understand that communicating with your ex can be tricky. Give us a call today and let us do the talking. We’ll even send your ex this blog post so he or she can learn how to properly communicate with you.
… okay… we won’t really send your ex this blog post. But, we’d really want to.
*Our office accepts Pennsylvania family law cases including divorce, equitable distribution, spousal support, alimony pendente lite, alimony, paternity and child support matters, child custody cases, juvenile law cases, and related matters in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Beaver County, Berks County, Butler County, Clearfield County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County (Greensburg).
Our law firm accepts Pennsylvania family law cases from other Pennsylvania counties including Armstrong County (Kittanning), Clarion County, Fayette County, Greene County, Indiana County, Lawrence County, Mercer County, Somerset County, and Venango County.*