Negotiating via E-mail, Texting, and Telephone

 Don’t do it.

Divorce negotiations are delicate, and they require all the warmth and sincerity we can transmit. Face-to-face conversations provide us with our best opportunity to get our spouse to hear our side.

Communication experts believe that our words convey only 10 percent of what we say, and that the other 90 percent is communicated through our body language, eyes, facial expressions, and voice inflections. These are our best persuasion tools, and it is foolish for us not to use them whenever possible.

With this in mind, e-mail and texting are the same as sending a telegram Negotiating over the telephone isn’t much better.

The telephone, at least, does allow for some of our vocal tone variations. Without the eye contact and gestures, however, their effectiveness is likely to evaporate mid-wire before it can get to your partner’s ears.

If you have no choice but to do some of your negotiating over the telephone, try to be as upbeat as you can. Schedule the calls for times of the day when both of you are typically less harried and more likely to be in a decent mood.

Neither you nor your partner should ever be on the phone if it’s a bad day, a bad time of the day, if either of you is in a bad mood or if any interruptions are anticipated.

Aside from giving our spouse three additional ways to misinterpret our message, there is another problem with e-mailing, texting, and telephoning. It is easier for the opposition to become snotty when we are not face-to-face with them.

I think we tend to be braver and meaner over the phone and this is obviously not a good thing. The same is true of e-mail and sending text messages, except here, we can easily turn into a monster. Our note might start with civility, and may even reflect some maturity and respect, but watch out.

We have a tendency to get all fired up when we are pleading our case to a screen, and it is easy to get angrier and meaner with each word. By the time we get to the last few sentences, you would think the text or email came from Wolf Man.

Whatever convenience is gained by texting, using e-mail or telephone isn’t worth the trouble you are putting into play.