John Gottman is "the dude" when it comes to researching relationships. He can predict with near creepy accuracy if a couple will get divorced based on indicators he has continuously researched. I want to share four methods of conflict that exacerbate disagreements and erode trust. If that is what you want in your relationship then do more of these tactics. If you want more peace, joy and love in your relationship I recommend you avoiding the following...
1. Criticism: This tactic works really well when you want to tear someone down. While we need to be honest with our partner it is imperative to find ways to do so without criticizing them. Things like listening and empathy help keep criticism down. And when criticism isn't being used, the next three are less likely to happen in conflict.
2. Defensiveness: Ellie Lisitsa of the Gotman Institute states, "Defensiveness is defined as self-protection in the form of righteous indignation or innocent victimhood in an attempt to ward off a perceived attack." There is a sensation of defending but in reality you are offending. Keep that in mind.
3. Contempt: Based on 40 years of Gottman's research, he has found this is the number one indicator of divorce. This is often seen in mocking, sarcasm, rolling of the eyes and flat out disrespect. When people get to this point of meanness there is typically a feeling or thought that has grown out of control.
4. Stonewalling: This doesn't feel like it, but stonewalling is a power move. Stonewalling occurs when you turn off, tune out, act busy or withdrawal. In a sense, when you don't participate (shut down) you are shutting down the conversation for everyone else as well. Those who withdrawal or step away are actually now controlling the time table of the conflict but not sharing it with others.
The more we avoid these four horsemen the better off the love and war within our relationships will be long-term.