Telling people about your divorce: Prepare an ‘elevator speech’

Telling people about your divorce isn’t going to be a “one and done” event, even if you post a Facebook message (on your own or together with your spouse). You’ll be telling friends, neighbors, colleagues, people at your kids’ schools and others in your business and social spheres for weeks and months to come.

Some people hear the news and wisely choose not to pry or express their opinions. However, you can’t count on everyone to act appropriately. One author and journalist who has written about divorce says that a good way to avoid unwanted advice and opinions is to develop a “divorce elevator speech.” This is a brief overview of the situation that you can share quickly and move the conversation forward in a positive way.

Following are the keys to developing a good “elevator speech” addressing your divorce:

Determine how you want to present the divorce

If it’s amicable, you can tell people that and say something like, “We wish each other well.” If you’re not in such a positive place yet, focus on what you’re working toward rather than addressing the issues that ended the marriage.

Ask for what you need

Often, people say things like, “Let me know if you need anything,” whether they mean it or not. However, if you can use some help from the person you’re talking to, let them know. This can also steer the conversation away from the divorce. Maybe you need a referral for a good babysitter, you could use some help with school pick-ups and drop-offs or you need a little time off from work. This is a good time to ask.

Shift the conversation to the other person

Most people, no matter how inquisitive they are, would really rather talk about themselves. If you’ve got nothing further to say about the divorce, shift the conversation to them. A simple “What’s new with you?” often works.

As you go through the divorce process, you’ll find yourself giving your “elevator speech” numerous times. It will likely change, depending on whom you’re speaking with and as you move into your new post-divorce life. While you don’t want to share all the details with most people, it’s crucial to have some close friends and family members to talk to. If you think that talking things over with a therapist will help, your Arizona family law attorney can likely provide some recommendations.

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