We live in a continuous loop of communication between social media, podcasts, radio, television, texts, emails, and actual verbal conversation. The world keeps talking and in order to get a word in edge-wise, we need to amp up our responses.
But in the world of divorce, when our communication skills are compromised and under assault, less is more. Listening, and waiting to provide reactions to the spouse’s uncomfortable at best and toxic generally, emails, texts, calls and physical confrontations, is the super power in the arsenal of self-defense tools. No one is required to engage in abusive communication, and response time should not be immediate if a response is necessary.
When the recipient of toxic texts, for instance, doesn’t respond, two things happen: 1) The perpetrator is placed off-guard because it is atypical not to jump in with an equally toxic response and communicate in kind, giving the recipient the upper hand in the power dynamic of toxic communication; and 2) providing a response based on the BIFF method (Bill Eddy) of Brief, Informative, Friendly and Firm. Example: “Thank you for your text. I see things differently. I have to proceed in the way I see best. Thank you for your input.” This can work for any toxic message.
It’s the words we choose and the tone of voice we use that will give us the strength we need in our communication to anyone under any circumstances. Words and tone are a great balance to the timing of our return communication. Our words cannot sound condescending, arrogant or passive aggressive. Our voices must be pleasant, genuine, and soothing.
The secret advantage of not engaging in fighting is that the promoter of toxic conversation stands on their own. They are exposed and isolated in their own toxicity. And eventually their own words will come back to haunt them. They will dig their own graves by their bad behavior. On the other hand, the one who lets the toxicity blow past them, stands in grace. They have nothing to be embarrassed about, nor to apologize for. And this is where the super power rests. In the decision to remain silent in the moment, to wait to speak, and then to speak briefly, in a firm yet friendly voice provide the upper hand, and hold the control over the less than gracious initiator of hurtful communication.
Lay down the rope to stop a verbal tug of war.
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