Families Change Guide to Separation & Divorce

5.14 - Practicing positive communication skills

Practicing positive communication skills

Practice your positive communication skills. In difficult situations, you can use these skills to handle conflict responsibly.

Here are two sample conflict situations. Compare the positive and negative responses:

Situation #1 When your former partner has the children, they eat all sorts of sweet treats and stay up far too late.

Negative response: Tell the children that your former partner is a lousy parent.
Positive response: Deal directly with the other parent about their behavior. In a calm voice, tell them that the children need to eat balanced meals and go to bed at their regular times. Discuss possible solutions to the problem, such as planning meals and shopping ahead.

Situation #2 You discover your former partner has been asking your 12-year-old son for information about someone you have been dating.

Negative response: Tell your son to get some “dirt” on the other parent’s social life.
Positive response: Tell your son that next time he can ask his other parent not to put him in this situation. Listen to how your son may be feeling. Speak with your former partner directly about the problem.

Try providing positive responses to this conflict situation:

Maria and Joe separated 18 months ago. They have a daughter, Lee.

Yesterday, Joe brought Lee back four hours late from a weekend visit. Joe claims they were late because they got stuck in traffic on the freeway. But Lee has told Maria that they were late because Joe’s new girlfriend came over and made dinner. Now Maria is on the phone at the kitchen table. Maria is crying and yelling over the phone at Joe, calling him a liar. Lee is sitting at the table, listening to her mother.

If you were Maria, how would you respond to Joe’s behavior and Lee’s feelings?

Think of some examples of conflict situations between you and your former partner. List some positive responses to the problem:

Conflict Situations Positive Responses

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5.14 - Practicing positive communication skills