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Communicating via text and email after divorce

In the last twenty years, we have witnessed numerous advancements to technology. Televisions have gotten bigger and clearer. Cellphones have gotten smaller and faster. And the internet is available just about everywhere.

In many ways, the advances are beneficial. We are able to communicate faster and easier with just about everyone. However, many people throughout Washington are willing to go to great lengths to avoid conversations with their ex-spouses after divorce.

You may feel as though the conversation is awkward. Perhaps you just want to get to the point and don't want to waste time with small talk. To avoid those uncomfortable situations, many people communicate primarily through texts and emails. Although they can be fast and efficient, they can also cause unnecessarily problems.

When we communicate, we internalize messages using three main components - the actual words, body language and tone of voice. When we text or email, two-thirds of those communications are lost.

Moreover, because people are constantly trying to keep text messages shorter, it's easy to send unclear messages. When we are reading messages from other people, we often put our own voice into their words, and we may completely misunderstand the tone they are trying to send.

That certainly doesn't mean you should stop sending your ex text messages or emails. However, there are a few basic principles to keep in mind. If you are sending more than two or three messages, pick up the phone and have a conversation. It may be uncomfortable, but your communication will likely be much more efficient.

In addition, never assume that your ex is the only person who will see your text message. If he or she is driving, the phone may be passed to your child to be read out loud. Anything negative will reflect poorly on both of you and needlessly put your child in the middle of your fight.

Source: Huffington Post, "Ex-Texting," Judy Corcoran and Julie A. Ross, M.A., Sept. 2, 2011

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