So you open up the blog for the
Law Office of Bryan Fagan and you see that today’s post is about…email? You may be
wondering what the person writing this blog, someone who attended four
years of college and three years of law school, is doing writing about
how to type and send an email. This is all pretty basic stuff, right?
On some level you may have a point but I can tell you from my years of
experience as a
family law attorney that no two emails are created equal. The quality of the email
can often impact the response you receive and the underlying message that
is sent. Believe it or not there are subliminal and secondary messages
that your email can send. You may think that all you are doing is letting
your ex-wife know that your son’s football game has changed fields
due to a wet playing surface. How you convey this information can set
a tone for future communications and their effectiveness, however.
With that all said, today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan
Fagan will delve into the nitty-gritty of sending emails to an ex-spouse.
Subtleties are often the difference between an effective and ineffective emailer.
What goes into writing a successful email?
Success is in the eye of the beholder, but there are some common threads
that bind all well written emails. When I get back to my desk after being
in court all day I will review my voicemails. Those voicemails that are
any longer than thirty seconds cause me to cringe a little bit. This doesn’t
mean that I won’t listen to every second of the voicemail or that
I won’t call the person back immediately. It’s just that a
long voicemail is sometimes difficult to get through.
The same can be said of emails. Long, extremely detailed and complex emails
are not easy to read and take a lot more brain power than you might think
to get through. An email to your spouse about updates on your daughter
should not have to read like a newsletter from your neighborhood Home
Owner’s Association. Consider the reader and the amount of time
that he or she has available to commit to reading your email. Then consider
if the messages that you are sending are better left to a phone call or
even a face to face conversation.
If you have thought about these considerations and have still determined
that sending an email is the most effective method of communication then
by all means keep your email short and to the point. Do not dance around
the subject or discuss matters of secondary importance. Communicate your
message at the outset of your email and do so in clear, unmistakable language.
To be unclear is to be unkind, I always say.
If you need to communicate more than one issue, especially more than one
issue that are not related to one another, consider numbering the items
to clearly draw a distinction between the end point of one subject and
the beginning point of another. This allows your ex-spouse to refer to
those numbers in their response email as well.
Brevity, brevity, brevity
Keep your emails short. I brought this up earlier and I believe it to be
so important to this discussion that I am going to do it again. The email
cannot be too wordy or you will lose your ex-spouse’s interest.
Remember- this isn’t your mother or grandmother reading the email-
someone who has an unyielding love for you. This is an ex-spouse who may
already have heard enough from you during the course of your marriage.
You need to strike while the iron is hot with this person. Do not waste
time and their attention span on communicating anything but the essential
Also, keep in mind that if you send multiple emails a day or even a week
this could stand to annoy your ex-spouse to the point where he or she
will begin to disregard and not respond to emails you send. Pick your
spots and communicate accordingly. Change from email to phone calls or
simply wait until you see him or her next if you feel like you’ve
been inundating this person with messages. Obviously send an email if
you have to in order to bring an emergency situation to the attention
of your ex-spouse. Forget any second thoughts on your own appearance in
the event of an emergency.
Windshield, not rear view mirrors
Emails should be utilized to communicate messages about future events-
not to discuss anything that occurred in the past. I know on some level
it may feel good to lash out at your ex-spouse for their bad prior behavior
or to re-hash an event that bothered you. I can assure you the message
loses meaning via email and you will not get the heartfelt and apologetic
response that you seek. If anything, your sending an email about that
kind of subject matter will annoy and confuse your ex-spouse.
Instead, choose to use email to discuss future activities and to provide
updates on your child only. Attempt to think about email as a means to
cut down on future problems, be they emotional or logistical.
Finally, if your ex-spouse has been delinquent in paying child or spousal
support do not utilize an email about your child to attempt to have your
ex-spouse fork over the payments. Again, you risk losing sight of your
intended message if you switch back and forth between holiday scheduling
concerns and the fact that this month’s child support payment is
four days past due. I’m not saying do not discuss financial matters
with your ex-spouse. I’m not even saying not to email about financial
matters with your ex-spouse. Pick your battles, however.
Subject lines are the headline for your email
Just as a catchy or snappy headline in the newspaper or webpage of your
favorite news outlet can grab your attention, a well worded subject of
an email can do the exact same thing. The more specific you can be, without
going overboard in terms of length, the better off you will be. General
headlines like, “Thoughts on Jack” doesn’t tell your
ex-spouse what you are going to write about other than your son, Jack.
“Thoughts on Jacks’s upcoming trip to New York (Sept. 1-12)”
All emails should go to one email address
Some people have multiple email addresses that they receive email. My wife
has a work email that she will sometimes send me emails from. Later on
when I am asking her about that email she will have to look through both
email accounts to locate my reply. To avoid situations like this designate
a specific email account to use for communications regarding your child.
Consider having an app downloaded to your phone that allows you to quickly
send, receive and view emails on your phone. The mobility advantages to
a system like this are infinite. You and your ex-spouse are busy people,
in all likelihood. Remove a potential source of miscommunication and frustration
and your life will become that much easier and more productive.
Communication tools of the effective divorced parent- tomorrow’s
blog post subject
Law Office of Bryan Fagan
represents clients across southeast Texas. These clients and their families
are the focus of our practice and we strive daily to provide them with
the service that their situation demands. To learn more about our office
and discuss your questions with a licensed family law attorney, please
do not hesitate to
contact our office
today. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week. Thank you
for showing an interest in this subject matter and we hope that you will
return tomorrow to read more about effective communication techniques
for divorced parents.