Conflict will almost certainly drives up the cost of your separation. Up and up and up. And one thing that can really accelerate conflict and costs is what I call duelling texts and emails.
I know from my own personal experience and my work with clients how difficult it is not to react to a nasty message. In fact, it goes against our brain’s most primal instinct not to attack when we feel threatened.
But, if you can “go high” when your ex “goes low”, then you, your kids and your bank balance can gain so much: the possibility of improving communication in the long term, a better co-parenting relationship, a greater sense of control, pride in yourself and the potential to save thousands of dollars. One way you’ll save money is you won’t have to be one of those people who ends up in court with documents that include hundreds of pages of texts and emails. The additional legal costs of adding copies of all those texts and emails to your court documents, known as annexures, could be the equivalent of your grocery bill for months – maybe even the price of a holiday!
So, how can you deal with nasty and hostile communication from your ex? One suggestion I have is the BIFF response. That is keep your response Brief, Informative, Friendly and Firm. Bill Eddy, of the High Conflict Institute, writes in detail about the BIFF response in his book “BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, their Hostile Emails, Personal Attacks and Social Media Meltdowns”. It’s a tried-and-true method that can work in so many situations.
Let me give you an example of a BIFF response, “Thank you for sharing your point of view... Here’s some information you may not have....Enjoy your afternoon.” I know typing out a response like that can go against your instincts and seem so artificial but keep your eye on the prize. The benefits to you and your children.
And because we know that detailed planning dramatically increases the odds of developing any new healthy habit, I suggest that you have a plan for putting your BIFF responses into action.
Your plan could include:
- Grabbing a screen shot of the cover of Bill Eddy’s book, BIFF, and making it your home screen;
- Asking yourself if your ex’s communication needs to be responded to right away or can it wait. Remember most email or texts aren’t urgent so they don’t require an immediate response. Slowing down the time you take to respond can increase the likelihood of you writing a great BIFF response.
- Make your response Brief, Informative, Friendly and Firm;
- Read your response out loud – it’s a good way to test whether it’s BIFF;
- Congratulate yourself for going “high”;
- Review your setbacks and ask yourself what you would do next time to write a better BIFF response. A common mistake? Texting while drinking!
- Be kind to yourself about any setbacks; and
- Stick with it.
As we know, we don’t usually see the impact of our new healthy habits in a day, a week, sometimes even a month, but in a year, our lives’ can be transformed! And that’s my wish for you.
If you need support in your separation and are looking for ways other ways to reduce negative impacts and costs, contact me so we can discuss how I can help.