There are both positive and negative side effects to modern day modes of communication through electronic means. I will sometimes advise clients to keep each other in the loop through email so there is a record of the communication thread which can be retrieved if necessary. On the other hand, since personal inflection and intention is excluded from the communication, it is very important that you are very clear when you put your words in writing so there is no room for negative interpretation.
Julie A. Ross of the Huffington Post suggested some helpful tips in her article, Ex-Texting.
1. “If find yourself going back and forth via text or IM, that’s a sign that an actual conversation is warranted. Stop typing and pick up the phone.” This issue is often a sign of miscommunication and misunderstanding in an ongoing relationship which will only be magnified by parties in the midst of the divorce process.
2. “Be clear. Sometimes in a word-saving effort people become so cryptic that needless misunderstandings occur.” As stated above, when all you are relying on in your communication are the words themselves rather than body language and intonation, take the time to ensure that you are clearly understood.
3. “Unless you’re absolutely positive your text or IM has been received, don’t assume that it has.” The process for giving notice should always require confirmation by the recipient.
4. “Don’t assume that your ex is the only person who will see your text. If he or she is driving, your child may be asked to read it aloud.” First of all, as the recipient of the text, DON’T LET YOUR CHILD READ YOUR TEXT FROM YOUR SPOUSE. YOUR ADULT COMMUNICATIONS SHOULD REMAIN BETWEEN THE ADULTS. Secondly, remember that anything you put in writing at any time is preserved and may be shared with anyone which you should always bear in mind when drafting texts or emails.
5. “If you are driving and you get a text from your ex that you expect to be explosive, pull over or read it later.”
6. “Go ahead, spend six hours drafting a 500-word email to your ex, explaining everything, but don’t get annoyed if you don’t get a reply, or if you get one that says, “So?” I agree that you can’t expect a response that mirrors your time and effort, but I would add that a 500 word email is most likely going to induce an eye roll, rather than an a-ha moment. An abundance of words tends to be counterproductive. The recipient will probably give your wordy email much less weight than if you were brief and succinct.
7. “Your phone has an off button. You are allowed to use it at places other than at the movies.” Give yourself time off from your divorce so long as your ex couldn’t possibly be trying to communicate with you regarding an urgent issue involving your children.
8. “Don’t feel you have to reply to a text, email or voicemail immediately. Take your time. Breathe.” You will never regret pausing and thinking about what you truly want to say in your email or text rather than responding with a knee jerk reaction. You can’t hit “unsend.”
9. “Don’t drink and text, click or dial.”
10. “Remember that a text, email and IM can be printed, kept, forwarded and used in court.”