Communication Tips for Divorced Moms
Life as a divorced mom can be complex and challenging, but you can make it easier by mastering the art of powerful communication. As a divorced woman you will need to learn to hold your own in a variety of difficult conversations whether they are custody hearings, negotiating with your employer, dealing with a difficult ex, parenting your children alone, or even being in a new romantic relationship. The list is endless and the point is clear: If you’re going to have a happy and sane life as a divorced mom you absolutely must know how to communicate effectively, especially when the heat is on!
Here are a few simple strategies that will help you negotiate well with better results; avoid emotional breakdowns & strained relationships; and improve your confidence, well-being and quality of life.
- Good communication starts long before the call or interaction. To have a conversation that does not devolve into an emotional breakdown, a fight, or (even worse!), a court case, you need to be at your very best mentally, emotionally and physically. This means getting enough rest, good nutrition, exercise and emotional and spiritual support – on a daily basis. Bad habits need to be cut out or minimized. Smoking, drinking, binge-eating, etc. will all work against you. Effective communication and negotiations are a lot like running a marathon: don’t expect to win if you haven’t prepared and taken good care of yourself first. Start approaching your conversations with your ex (or any other challenging person or situation) this way. You’ll be amazed at how much better they go, and how much better you feel.
- Choose your words carefully, especially if you are sharing custody. Big fights occur when one ex or the other feels threatened or marginalized, so use language that is truthful but neutral, not words that will further the divide or increase the stress. Use phrases such as ‘the kids’ or ‘our kids’ vs. ‘my kids’; ‘the money’ vs. ‘my money’ or ‘the money you owe me’; ‘Bob’ vs. ‘my new boyfriend’. It’s a subtle shift that makes a huge difference, especially for your children. Engaging with your ex can be very stressful. If you feel you’re not ready to have a more neutral-tone conversation, consider other forms of communication until you are ready.
- Create some gracious exit strategies. This is particularly helpful if you are in negotiations. Exit strategies help you when you feel yourself losing control, feeling trapped (like you must make a decision when you are not ready to) or when the other party is becoming agitated or difficult. Think about your exit strategies long before you are in difficult conversations, and be sure to practice them out loud so they become familiar and sound natural. Your exit strategy may sound like: ‘We’re not being productive anymore. Let’s talk tomorrow when we can make some headway’. ‘You’re yelling. I’m hanging the phone up now. I’ll call on Wednesday when we can get through this conversation better’. ‘You make some good points. I’d like to think them over. I’ll get back to you Friday by noon and let you know what I decide’. Exit strategies not only help you back out of difficult conversations before getting overly emotional or agreeing to something you are not ready to agree to, but they also great at helping you to feel more in-control and confident.
These are just a few tips that can help you have more empowered conversations as a divorced woman or mom. These simple shifts will produce great results, leaving you with much more emotional & mental bandwidth to really enjoy your life again.
Founder and CEO of SoloMama.com