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What Four Behaviours Spell Danger in Your Relationship?

Can you accurately predict the demise of a relationship? Following years of research, Professor of Psychology Dr. John Gottman, uncovered communication styles that have proven to be able to predict that the end of a relationship is possibly near.

While conflict in a relationship is actually normal, its how the conflict is handled that acts as the predictor of the relationships success or failure.

Interestingly, TalentSmart after testing more than a million people found that these approaches to handling conflict are not only the sign of doomed intimate relationships, but also a sign of trouble in the workplace and that top performers in the workplace are those that avoid these four behaviours.

So what are the four behaviours that spell danger in your relationship?

1. Criticism

Criticism that focuses on an individuals character leaves damage in its path. It also paves the way for more damaging behaviours that permanently scar the relationship.

Criticism leaves the one on the receiving end of that criticism feeling rejected, hurt, unworthy and creates a cycle of negativity in the relationship.

2. Contempt

Contempt is about a lack of respect for one another and it plays out in one person trying to take the other down a notch. It’s sarcasm, it’s ridicule, and it’s body language such as eye-rolling. The target of contempt is made to feel despised and worthless.

Dr. Gottman in his blog explains “couples that are contemptuous of each other are more likely to suffer from infectious illness (colds, the flu, etc.) than others, as their immune systems weaken. Contempt is fueled by long-simmering negative thoughts about the partner.”

3. Defensiveness

Defensiveness is a clear sign of a relationship in trouble as defensiveness is really a way of blaming your partner.

When we feel as through we are being unjustly accused, defensiveness is a tactic we use as a way to get our partner to back off but when we are defensive we are not taking responsibility and so we cannot move the relationship forward. As a strategy it is almost never successful.

4. Stonewalling

It takes two willing people to work through conflict and create a loving, happy relationship. Stonewalling happens when one partner shuts down, making progress impossible.

Stonewalling can come in the form of silent treatment, being emotionally distant or ignoring the other person completely. According to Dr. Gottman, “Rather than confronting the issues (which tend to accumulate!) with our partner, we make evasive manoeuvres such as tuning out, turning away, acting busy, or engaging in obsessive behaviours.”

All four of these behaviours spell trouble for the affect they have on your relationship, (any and all of your relationships).

By being aware of these behaviours you can stop yourself next time you use one of these hurtful tactics. If these are common place behaviours in your relationship, be willing to seek professional counsel before damage is done in your relationship.

For a list of Dr. Gottman’s antidotes to these relationship destroyers, click here