When you’re communicating with your ex about the children or other issues, it can be hard to pick up the phone and face the emotional challenge of a conversation. Texting or emailing can feel easier at times, but be sure to do it the right way.

Bill Eddy, of the High Conflict Institute, devised an acronym that provides a great tool for effective text and email communications — BIFF. This acronym reminds us to be: Brief, Informative, Friendly, and Firm. If you keep these four principles in mind, you can communicate effectively with as little animosity as possible.

  • BRIEF – Keep your communications brief. If you have a question or need to convey information, make sure your post is focused on one single message. Avoid compound questions or complicated explanations.
  • INFORMATIVE – If you know your co-parent is going to need background information, provide that information up front. For example, you might explain that you’re asking about this because that is happening.
  • FRIENDLY – Send the type of text message you would want to receive. Avoid snarky comments and don’t make it personal. Put your message in a tone that conveys “I’m friendly” and “I’m open to your answer.” Let your ex know that you are sending the message in good faith and asking for the same in return.
  • FIRM – Vague, sweeping statements can lead to misunderstanding. Instead, be firm and specific about why you are writing and what you need.

And that’s it. BIFF can be your new BFF to help you communicate without conflict in your text messages and emails.