Communicating By Divorce Email

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The advantages and disadvantages of communicating by email when divorcing should be considered. We often try to minimize conflict or simply don’t want to deal with it. So sometimes it’s easier to send a divorce email and not have to deal with the reaction of your spouse face-to-face. But sending that divorce email may actually hurt your negotiations more that you give credit.

Research at the Harvard Business Review suggests that communicating by email may not be a good thing as statements are often seen as sarcasm. Face-to-face communication offers more that simply words. We can tell, by intonnance of voice, body language and speech patterns how the deliverer of the message feels about the words they are communicating which is lost in sending an email. The absence of this additional information causes us to draw false conclusions which may have long term effects. In a divorce situation where mistrust and anger exist these false conclusions would be more apt to occur with the assumptions being negative rather than positive in nature.
Harvard Business Review

It has also been suggested that digital text makes it much easier to not consider the sender than it would be in person. Digital communication offers us the ability to be less empathetic. If you are stating your position to your spouse you might want to consider that your message may not be perceived from your perspective in the same way you had intended. Also, Time Management Success suggests that emails that have abbreviations or short description can be misunderstood or interpreted the wrong way. Advantages and Disadvantages of Email While Time Management Success lists the advantages and disadvantages of communicating by email the disadvantages may be amplified in a divorce email situation where emotions run high. One seemingly innocent word may be negatively perceived and the rest of the message tainted or disregarded. Time Management Success also states, “A reply in the heat of the moment can’t be easily retracted, but it can cause lasting damage.”

My experience shows that clients ability to communicate has broken down by the time they come to my office which is one of the reasons they require my services as a Mediator. Clients who attempt to resolve issues themselves often increase the conflict and hostility which is then brought into the Mediation room creating entrenched positions. Perhaps the issue at hand could have been dealt with in a better fashion if it had been contained to the Mediation room to begin with? I often ask clients, “Would you go to a doctor and ask for possible solutions to a health problem and then self-diagnose?” Of course not, right? Then why would you employ the professional services of a Mediator and then try to resolve your differences on your own? In light of this, perhaps sending divorce emails expecting a sympathetic soon-to-be-Ex to be rational and considerate in receiving the message is a mistake in judgement.

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