If you know that conversations with your former partner can cause friction, bring up strong emotions, and activate you, how can you protect yourself against this? While it’s impossible to anticipate every possible scenario, using this 4-step system when you feel triggered can help you prevent an emotional situation before it overwhelms you:
Step 1 – Recognize: Recognize that you are activated or uncomfortable. Take a deep breath to calm yourself, and to mindfully take control of your feelings.
Step 2 – Create space: Acknowledge and redirect. Thank them for sharing or asking, and tell them you will get back to them soon
Step 3 – Filter: Review the situation and filter your response based on your values and your co-parenting agreement
Step 4 – Pitch and respond: Create your pitch and respond within a timely manner, keeping an open mind for negotiation.
It’s crucial that you remember to never respond when you feel activated or emotional – neither you, nor your former partner, will ever get the end result you want or need. If you’re struggling to escape a conversation to get the space you need to filter, try these statements:
● Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I'd like some time to think about it.
● I will get back to you soon, no later than (provide a reasonable time frame).
● I hadn’t thought of that. Why don't I take some time to think about it and get back to you?
● Thank you for including me. I need a little time to gather my thoughts and I will let you know.
● Oh, I actually have a commitment and can't discuss this right now, but let's find some time to discuss this together.
● This doesn’t seem like a good time for us to have an objective conversation, so let’s re-group later when we can focus on our goals and priorities.
● This isn’t a good time for me, but I’d like to re-group at a later date to learn more about your thoughts.
Remember to always stay curious, and ask powerful questions so that you have the information you need to make your decision. Questions like “Tell me more?”, “How does this benefit our situation?”, and “What matters most to you?” are excellent leading questions.
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