The journey through a divorce or separation brings a range of emotions from shock, fear, anger relief and eventual acceptance. Combine the early emotions of anger and fear with the need to communicate and sort things out with your soon to be ex…and you’re plunged into a fragile situation where one emotionally charged message can cause chaos.
However, there are ways of managing even the most difficult of ex’s. Bill Eddy LCSW, Esq the founder of the high conflict institute has a four-letter acronym, BIFF that could save you from crossed wires and fall outs and help you contain difficult behaviour and stop it escalating.
1. Keep it brief
Before you respond – wait – never fire back in anger – ask yourself if you really need to respond. If you do need to respond, keep it brief. You may have a lot to say but long-winded emails and texts are not always helpful especially when emotions are running high. The less you write, the less there is to misunderstand. Your aim is to state a fact, not ignite or become embroiled in a personal attack.
- Be informative
Write a draft and then read back over, have you included information that just isn’t needed at this stage? It’s normal to feel overwhelmed with all the ‘stuff’ you need to sort out but trying to tackle too many things at once will only add stress and confusion. So, only leave in information that is needed to sort out this particular issue/situation.
- Be friendly
Would you send this email to a friend? If not, rise above the emotions and take out any negative, passive-aggressive, sarcastic tonality or language. It can help to share it with someone neutral, as it can be difficult to gage yourself.
- Be firm
What do you want to get out of sending the message? It might be clarity on how you’re going to pay the court fees. It might be confirmation on when you’ll each have the kids over the holidays. Whatever it is, be clear on what you’re expecting and when.
If you all else fails, walk away and revisit it later. It’s far too easy to send a message that might plunge you into conflict, so save yourself from the unnecessary drama by following the above tips.
BIFF was created by Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq. of the High Conflict Institute: www.highconflictinstitute.com