One of the greatest causes of conflict in any co parenting relationship is miscommunication.
As humans we always think we are much better at communicating than what we actually are. Especially when it comes to listening.
I recently read a story of an old man and his grandson who were walking down a business street in a downtown district.
As they walked along, the grandfather suddenly stopped, turned his head slightly, and tweaked his ear. After a moment he said to his grandson, “Follow me.”
They slowly moved from where they were standing to a small planter box next to a sidewalk café. The planter was filled with various seasonal plants, but as the old man gently pushed back the flowers, behind them revealed a small bird’s nest filled with baby chicks; their chirping almost indistinguishable from the din of lunchtime dinners and people on the sidewalk.
No one seemed to pay any attention to the old man, his grandson or the little nest, but the grandson was amazed.
After watching for a few minutes and then moving away the little boy looked up at his grandfather. “Grandpa, how did you hear the birds? There is so much noise, so much happening, how could you hear?”
Without saying a word the old man took several coins from his pocket and tossed them on the ground. With the tinkling of the coins on the sidewalk it seemed everything came to a stop.
People turned around.
Diners stopped eating to look their way.
Several almost seemed to want to reach down and pick up the dropped coins.
Then as quickly as it had happened, everything went back to the way it was. That’s when the old man spoke.
“It’s all in what you are listening for”.
The same can be said when it comes to communicating with your ex.
Whether we realise it or not, our listening is already coloured by what we think their intent it. (Read that again.)
If we think they are wanting to deceive, manipulate, control or antagonise us - that is what we are listening for and that is what we will find.
On the other hand if we think they are being open, helpful, honest - that is what we will listen for and that is what we will find.
And whilst listening to the words being spoken by the other person is easy ,the hard part comes in removing your judgement, perception or thoughts to what is being said and actually hearing the question or comment for what it is.
Learning how to answer the question or respond to the comment can be difficult when you feel the need to explain, justify or excuse but you don’t have to and most of the time you shouldn’t because it just creates more space for more conflict.
Stick to the facts is one of the simplest pieces of advice but also one of the hardest to implement.