Video: Managing Conflict Effectively
How to effective conflict can bring you closer together
Dealing with communication killers
Correcting communication mistakes
Effective communication is the foundation of any healthy relationship, but it can be challenging to maintain open and honest communication with your partner at all times. Many couples struggle with communication issues, which can lead to misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and even relationship breakdowns. In this series, we will explore some common communication killers that couples face and provide tips on how to overcome them.
Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Gottman, experts in the field of relationships, refer to the first four patterns as the Four Horsemen (Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt, and Stonewalling), while the latter two are considered the Horsemen’s cousins, Belligerence and Blame. They have clearly stated that these patterns can poison any relationship, whether it’s a romantic one or not.
Criticizing your partner is damaging to your relationship, as it can make them feel attacked and defensive. Instead of criticizing, try to use “I” statements to express how you feel about a particular situation.
Contempt involves feelings of superiority and disrespect towards your partner. It is a toxic emotion that can be destructive to a relationship. Instead of showing contempt, try to show empathy and understanding towards your partner’s perspective.
The Gottman Institute states that defensiveness is self-protection in the form of righteous indignation or innocent victimhood in an attempt to ward off a perceived attack.” If you find yourself becoming defensive, try to take a step back and really listen to what your partner is saying.
Stonewalling is when one partner withdraws from the conversation and stops communicating. This can be a sign that they are feeling overwhelmed or frustrated. If you or your partner is stonewalling, take a break and come back to the conversation when you are both feeling calmer.
The belligerent person will seem to be looking for a fight. They will appear provocative or combative because they are expressing anger in an aggressive manner.
Blame is when a person attempts to shift the burden of responsibility onto the other person. Instead of blaming, try accepting responsibility for some small part of the situation. This frequently helps the other person take responsibility for their side.
Video: The Four Horsemen
The Gottman Institute’s video describes Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling.
For more information on communication patterns and how they can affect relationships, please visit the Couples and Marriage Counseling category of our articles. Remember, the fundamental dynamics are universal, regardless of the type of relationship you’re in.
If you and your partner are struggling with communication issues, consider getting in touch with me to work through these challenges together.
To learn more about red flags to look out for and how to fix them, please visit my Couples Counseling page.
Jonathan F. Anderson, LPC-s has worked in the helping profession since he started college in 1990. After completing his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas, Austin in 1994, he attended the highly-regarded University of Minnesota to earn his Master’s degree in 1997. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is recognized as a Board Approved Supervisor by the State of Texas Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors. Jonathan has completed Level 2 of the Gottman Method of Couples Counseling, and in 1998 received training from the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation in Advanced Critical Incident Stress Management & Debriefing. To learn more about Jonathan’s practice, click here: Jonathan F. Anderson, LPC-s.