Here I talk about the importance of communication. This is most often what becomes the real problem if not done properly when people are going through a separation.
Its okay to be emotional but we’ve got to understand that when we say things, they do have consequences and especially if we’ve got children. This is why it’s easy to understand how things can get off track and out of control when one does not listen and communicate clearly. Communication is always a two way thing and not one way! So if you’re currently going through a separation now, the important thing to understand is that you communicate with your ex, and also that you make sure they actually understand what you’re saying.
In the heat of the moment, someone will only take out the key words that they hear. They don’t hear the whole sentence. They might only hear the things that they are trying to prove. First try to understand what is said and what is needed to be met by both parties. You just want to always hold your head high and be the bigger person and understand that you can’t control their actions or reactions. You can only control your own. Those circumstances can, in a lot of cases, make a big difference to an outcome.
If you started on talking terms then you will end up working together to get an outcome. So my advice to you is be very mindful of the words that you say and how you say them and know what they mean because they have consequences.
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[00:00:00] Hi everyone, welcome back to the Divorce Angel Podcast. So over here in Australia, we are in the first week of spring and whether this podcast might go live in a few weeks, but I’m pretty excited because I’m sort of over the cold weather. I don’t know about you, but I really get sort of that winter blues where I get a little bit depressed when there’s no sun. I just love sun. Actually, I’m think I could be part snake because I love just warming up in the sun and it’s not uncommon for me to be laying on the driveway at the front with the asphalt warming my back in the sun on my front set. Very weird, I know. So please I don’t take or hold that against me, but it’s certainly something that I’m known to do. But you might be over the other side of the world and coming out of summer and just grateful that all the heat is about to dissipate and you might be going into winter. So [00:01:00] we’re all very different. But that’s what makes the world go round and it makes it such an exciting place.
So this week I wanted to talk to you about communication. It’s something that I see as a real problem when people are going through separations. I have these very close friend of mine who has also gone through a divorce not long ago and we often have a chat about how we can make it better, what he went through and how we can simplify the process and I’d said to him a few weeks ago, “I see this real problem with communication.” How we can make people understand that what they say has consequences. At the moment, I’m working with a client in my divorce concierge program where we work one-on-one and I mentored her all the her and help her get through everything [00:02:00] and the communication has been really funny to witness between her and her ex-husband.
They’re both quite, I wouldn’t say volatile, but they’re both quite, not even opinionated, they’re just– They’re the sort of people that run businesses, have management roles and whatever, and I suppose they’ve always stood up to each other. But now that they’re separating, you can say something and it can cost you tens of thousands of dollars because before you know it, you get a legal letter that you’ve got a reply to or could be an IVO or something like that and it’s not okay. It’s okay to be emotional but we’ve got to understand that when we say things, they do have consequences and especially if we’ve got children. The children just don’t need to become collateral damage of our separations or divorces. [00:03:00]
This friend of mine, we decided that we do a little bit of an experiment and something that he’d done before with a mentor of his when he was writing his book. So what the idea was is it we had to get a blackboard and a piece of chalk and he would give me instructions and I would have to write what he said on this blackboard. So we started off and I suppose before we get any further, it’s important for me to say it we’re on the same page. We have the same goal from this little experiment that we’re trying to do and I’m certainly got no animosity against him or no ill will or anything like that so you would think that this would go well.
He starts giving me these instructions and I think the first one was divide the page down the middle then [00:04:00] on the right hand side, put a rectangle, then put in four squares the same size. Then do a picture underneath like it went something like this. By the time I’d finished, he said, “Right. Now show me.” and when I showed him, he just laughed because I thought I had followed his instructions to the T, but it turned out that I hadn’t. It become evident to me that when we are separating, communication is so important and it’s easy to understand how things can get off track and out of control because here we are, we’re both friends, we’re both trying to just do an experiment to see what the outcome is, and I probably only got 50% of his instructions right yet I thought I had followed. Then when we went [00:05:00] back through and reviewed what he’d said, we were just both laughing. “How did I get this from what you said?” and it was easy to see how we got off track.
So if you’re currently going through a separation now, the important thing to understand is that when you communicate with your ex, that it is really important to make sure they actually understand what you’re saying. You can understand when you’re talking with experts in this area why they say when you talk to someone you need to ask them to repeat to you what you said because In the heat of the moment, someone will only take out the key words that they hear. They don’t hear the whole sentence. They might only hear the things that they are trying to prove are true.
So when you have an opinion of someone, you are looking for evidence to prove what you think. In [00:06:00] some cases you might say a sentence or something to your ex about a whole lot of things, but they don’t hear everything that you were saying. They only pick up what they want to hear to either confirm that you are in the wrong or to confirm that you think they are in the wrong but they’re not hearing everything. If we then use other technology like, text messages or emails, this can also cause problems because when you send a text message, you might be sending it with no animosity whatsoever but there could just be one word in it that is taken the wrong way.
I suppose an example of this is one of the clients that I’m working with at the moment, she has a business and her and her husband have run that business for quite some time now. So she got an email from a staff member [00:07:00] and she was so upset by what was in it and she sent it to me and she said, “I can’t believe what she’s trying to imply in this email.” So I went through and read it, but to me, I saw nothing. I didn’t see what she saw but you have to understand where she was coming from. She’d been having issues with her ex-partner about the staff and how they were managing the staff and for her, she just read in between the lines of this email and saw that the staff member was saying something that I truly didn’t see and couldn’t imagine what she thought was going on. But when you’re in a situation of heightened emotional state, what seems to be fighting for your existence, your funding for your business, access to your children, your house, your car, your money everything else, what happens is even the little things become massive problems and [00:08:00] sometimes we read into them what maybe might not be there.
So the question is how do you fix this and what can you do about it? It’s important to understand that if you continue the way you are and you continued write emails and things be taken out of proportion, or even when you get a letter from a lawyer and when you read the letter you think, “Oh my God. This is what they’re saying and that’s not true.” It’s important to understand that just because you get a legal letter, it does not mean what you think it does.
For instance, yesterday, I was talking to this amazing lawyer and he was saying he makes a point of every time he gets a legal letter, when he sends it to his client, he rings the client and he pretty much goes through it word by word and explains what it means. Because in a lot of cases, lawyers, and I’ve talked about this before, they talk a different [00:09:00] language to the rest of us and it might be quite aggressive or it might be what seems to be rude but that might not be what it’s meant to do. There’s always an outcome that they are trying to achieve and, in most cases, the legal letters are written from lawyer to lawyer. They’re not written for your right to read and to understand. It’s not like it’s, “Dear Jane. It’s been really lovely working with you.” It’s this is not going to be like that. It’s going to be quite aggressive and whatever because someone is paying for that person services so they need to be seen to be acting in that person’s best interest and that person getting value for money. So don’t take it the wrong way if you get a legal letter and you think that it’s saying something because it possibly may not be saying that at all.
Back to how do we address this issue with communication with our ex. The key really is is understanding [00:10:00] that when you do get a text message or something and you think it says something, don’t answer it straight away. If it’s come across like they are implying something or accusing you of something, just take a deep breath. You don’t need to answer it straight away unless obviously it’s life and death or it’s got something to do with the children and their safety. But if it’s just an accusation or a question or that’s how you think it is, just don’t answer it. Put it down and come back to it whether it be 12 hours later or 24 hours later, and I promise you when you read that text message or email it will actually mean something completely different to you because it all has to do with the sort of day you’ve had.
It has to do with how things have turned out for you whether it be at work, whether you were driving home and someone beeped at you, whether you were in line at the [00:11:00] supermarket and someone pushed in. If you’ve had a bad day and then you get a text message or an email from someone or from your ex, and you straight away think, “Oh, I just can’t deal with this. This is just the icing on the cake.” and you go back and you answer it in an aggressive way. It just can start a Snowball Effect, and then before you know it, they’re coming back with something else and you’ve just– You’ve got this correspondence that all of a sudden, has got out of hand. In a lot of cases, what has been said cannot be unsaid. If it’s in writing, it certainly is always there for someone to see.
So you want to make sure when you are writing any correspondence make sure that if a third party was to read it, that that third party would go, “Oh, there’s nothing wrong with this.” Don’t accuse someone of something especially in any form of correspondence. Make sure that you think about [00:12:00] what you are putting in writing because it can have consequences, and always be prepared to walk away and come back and answer something. I promise you even just test this once or twice. There’s no hurry to answer certain things. Walk away, come back, and ask yourself, “How did I feel about this when I first read it? And now how do I feel about it the second time?”
Now the other thing with communications in a lot of cases is when you get a third party involved, especially if they’re emotionally attached to you. For instance, if you’ve got a girlfriend or a family member that you’re really close to and have supported you through your separation, showing them that text message can also help change the way you might think that something has is being said or how [00:13:00] you were reading it.
So if someone has an opinion of yo ur ex and that opinion is certainly the same of your as yours, but they’re also trying to protect you, in a lot of cases, they will only see the bad things in what’s in writing as well and it’s sometimes a good idea to get someone that is completely impartial just to read it, if you really wanted to get a second opinion and ask them, “What do you think this means?” because in a lot of cases, you’re never going to know anyway, you’re never going to understand what they are trying to get across, and you can’t control what your ex is saying or not saying anyway, so why get upset about it?
You need to be a bigger person and lead by example for your children. You don’t want your ex to be able to show your kids a text message or an email, “This came from mum.” You just want to always hold your head [00:14:00] high and be the bigger person and understand that you can’t control their actions or reactions. You can only control your own. Those circumstances can, in a lot of cases, make a big difference to an outcome.
Now when it comes to communication, if you can talk to your ex face to face– When you look at someone’s facial expressions, it really tells a story and it leads the way for a good relationship moving forward. In a lot of cases, people just can’t talk face-to-face. It’s too hurtful, there’s too much going on. If you can, it will make a difference because how you start your separation– If you started on talking terms and you work together to get an outcome. Once this is all over and done with, you can remain that way. But if you start on non-talking terms and you start [00:15:00] throwing crap at each other and saying things that possibly aren’t true just to get it a reaction, things just don’t get better.
Now, let’s go back to where I very started this podcast and the experiment that I did with my friend. Now I said to you that we started on a blackboard and when I had to write those four squares on the blackboard, I had to also color them in. At the end of the experiment, he said to me, “Right. So show me the lightest part of the board.” and the interesting thing was my perception was the lightest part of the board was where I had colored in the boxes because to me, I was using white chalk. So the white part was the lightest part but in his [00:16:00] mind, the lightest part was where no chalk had been colored in like where it was just the blackboard because we started there.
So the outcome of our experiment was that perception is really what leads us to think what we think. That’s the danger of when we communicate with someone. It’s not as simple as the words or what someone says, it also has to do with our emotions at the time, our environment, at the time, and those things all then help us really form an opinion. Like they say, perception sometimes is what we think is real and sometimes it’s the complete opposite.
So my advice to you is to take everything with a grain of salt. Just because you hear something or you read something, it might not [00:17:00] be true and all you can do is do the very best you can do as a person, as a parent, as a partner, as a human being, as a friend, as a daughter, as a son. You can’t do anything more than that, but just be very mindful of the words that you say and how you say them, how you write them, and what they mean because they can have consequences to someone else and sometimes you think you’re doing the right thing and it can backfire on you. It’s a skill that we all have to learn and I’m certainly still learning it. So have a great week and I hope it’s amazing and I will talk to you again next week.
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