I had the opportunity to speak with my ex recently. The conversation was very civil and even cordial. However, it took quite a bit of will power on my part to keep it that way. After only a few short minutes, I quickly recognized the communication patterns of our past. It would have been very easy to fall back into our old “learned” routine of raising voices and lashing out at each other.
There are several components of communication that can either make or break a conversation. Your tone of voice, the content or words you use and even facial expressions impact the way a conversation proceeds. Negative tones in your voice or inflection, negative or sarcastic words, and frowns and rolling of the eyes can cause a conversation to deteriorate very quickly.
The opposite is also true. A positive tone of voice, positive words and a neutral or happy face can keep a conversation from spiraling downward out of control. In fact, just the act of putting a smile on your face, whether you mean it or not, will change your tone of voice and attitude…even when you are just talking on the phone. People can “hear” a smile. It is virtually impossible to portray a negative tone in you voice when you are smiling!
Not every conversation you are going to have is going to be easy. If your ex-spouse cannot or will not control their emotions, words and facial expressions, don’t fall into the trap of fanning the flames of a new argument by losing your self-control. Learn to recognize your “learned” behaviors and reactions to your ex and work at not falling back into those past behaviors. It will make life much easier for everyone involved.