3.12 Communication Dos and Don’ts

Once you are emotionally and mentally ready to communicate you can focus on becoming an excellent communicator. You have learned about the common pitfalls to avoid and the best strategies to focus on. Here’s a list of the basic communication do’s and don’ts to give you extra help. 


Communication Do’s and Don’ts



  • Understand yourself and your own emotional state.
  • Communicate with your former partner only when you can talk calmly without getting upset.
  • Be prepared to walk away if you are getting angry, instead of staying and engaging.
  • Keep communications brief and focused on the issues. By being clear and specific about what the problem is. E.g. “Let’s stop talking about two years ago and concentrate on how to help Jane get her homework done.”
  • Be courteous and respectful of the other person, even if you feel he/she may not deserve it.
  • Recognizing your own emotions about the situation and your former partner.


  • Don’t let off topic issues (e.g. past events) get into the discussion.
  • Don’t blame your own feelings on your former spouse.
  • Never communicate with the other parent through your child. This puts a burden on the child as the messenger and can also lead to misunderstandings.
  • Don’t let the past inform the discussion and don’t blame yourself or the other parent about the past.
  • Don’t expect appreciation or praise from your former partner. Manage your expectations of how the other person should behave.
  • Don’t interrupt. Give your full attention, and don’t be playing on your phone when they are speaking.



Communicating effectively is vital to working through your separation. Regardless of your communication method, it is important to thoughtfully approach conversations with your former spouse. Good communication skills lead to better negotiations and can make your separation less stressful and less time consuming. Next, you will learn how to use these communication skills while you work out your separation issues through negotiating.