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Monday, August 15, 2011

Communication styles that harm relationships

John Gottman, a relationship researcher, has been able to predict with 90% accuracy which relationships will fail by watching the couple interact. Those most at risk used these communication styles
1.         Criticism:
2.         Contempt: 
3.         Defensiveness:
4.         Stonewalling:  

Criticism  is attacking your partner with the intent of making yourself right and the other person wrong. For example,
Generalizations: “you always…” “you never…”“you’re the type of person who …” “why are you so …”
Comparisons: Others can do it . .
Remedy: Learn to raise issues gently and politely, but firmly. Keep the focus on the problem, not the character of your partner. eg  “When you (behaviour) . . It’s a problem for me because (consequences) . .  I’d prefer (propose a solution). . . .Could we experiment with that or do we need to tweak it?”

Contempt is attacking your partner’s sense of self with the intention to insult or psychologically hurt them.Tactics include: Insults and name-calling: “bitch, bastard, wimp, fat, stupid, ugly, slob, lazy…” Hostile humor, sarcasm or mockery Body language & tone of voice: sneering, rolling your eyes, curling your upper lip.
Remedy: Notice the good things about your partner and build a culture of appreciation (5 times as many positives to negatives)

Defensiveness is seeing yourself as the victim, defending or preventing a perceived attack. Tactics of defensiveness include:
Making excuses (e.g., external circumstances beyond your control forced you to act in a certain way) “It’s not my fault…”, “I didn’t…”
Cross-complaining: meeting your partner’s complaint, or criticism with a complaint of  your own, ignoring what your partner said
Disagreeing and then cross-complaining “That’s not true, you’re the one who …” “I did this because you did that…”
Yes-butting: start off agreeing but end up disagreeing
Repeating yourself without paying attention to what the other person is saying Whining “It’s not fair.”
Remedy: Listen generously and take responsibility for your part in the conflict. Change what you need to change in yourself.

Stonewalling is withdrawing from the conversation as a way to avoid conflict or punish. Partners may think they are trying to be “neutral” but stonewalling conveys disapproval, icy distance, separation, or smugness:
Tactics include:
Stony silence
Monosyllabic mutterings
Short answers
Changing the subject
Removing yourself physically, without returning to the topic
Silent Treatment
Remedy: To help the relationship, learn to calm yourself down and finish the conversation in a relaxed way.   

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