Divorce – and even marriage for that matter – is riddled with difficult conversations. Typically we think of any interaction that makes us extremely uncomfortable as one that is difficult. It’s the conversations we know we need to have, but avoid because the idea of having them seems so unpleasant.

But the nature of your divorce can be determined by how you show up in these moments and the communication you have with your ex.

Communication is a key skill and getting divorced doesn’t mean your communication issues are over with your ex. If anything, it can increase the need for stronger communication as discussions through mediation can be difficult.

The way you approach these conversations can really set the tone of everything that follows. Here’s how to approach difficult conversations:

Recognize the build up
Notice why you’ve determined the conversation is difficult to begin with. Most of the time, it’s because we guess how the other person is going to react and we expect things to go a particular way. These expectations are precisely what leads us to bracing for impact and feeling as if the conversation will be difficult. It might and it might not. Recognize that this build up is exactly what’s making you reluctant to have the conversation in the first place. We can really build up these conversations in our mind when they might not be as bad as we think.

Let go of control
You may be hoping that your ex responds a particular way during your conversation. It’s fine to wish for the best and smooth interaction, but it’s important to remember that you can’t control their reaction. You only have control over your own words, actions, and reactions. When you enter into a conversation with the goal of getting the other person to see things your way, you are attempting to control the situation. Let it go! You will see much better results if you can let go of control and simply go with the flow of the conversation.

Listen
In order to truly go with the flow of the conversation, two things need to happen. First, you have to come to the table being willing to be open and see where things go. Second, you need to truly listen. Often we can get so entrenched in our way is the best way that we lose sight of the other person. Conversations are a two-way street, a give and take. It’s common that after all of the build up we’ve created in our minds and predicting how the other person is going to react, we may begin the conversation without even listening to what the other is truly saying. Listening is the key to making difficult conversations easier.

 

There are so many factors when it comes to having difficult situations, the biggest of course being the people who are involved. Approaching the process using the steps above will give you a great start to creating the best outcome possible. Remember that communication is a skill you’ll use over and over again throughout the divorce process and the rest of your life. It’s well worth your time to practice!