Types of behaviors that will make conflict worse


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Types of behaviors that will make conflict worse

  1. 1. Types of Behaviors That Will Make Conflict WorseHave you found yourself in an escalating conflict with your partner? Does the conflictfeel unresolved? Do you feel as if your partner does not hear you and is shutting downduring conflict? It could be HOW you behave during conflict that creates or exacerbatesthese results.What you do during conflict often results in a cycle of reactions. It is important to beaware of these reactionary behaviors and how they are interpreted by your partner. Idiscuss the actual conflict cycle in a previous article.For more information about conflict cycles please read my previous article, How toAvoid the Same Conflict. John M. Gottman, PhD and a relationship expert, discussesfive signs that indicate that a relationship is going to end. In my column I will focus onaspects of these signs to assist you in handling your conflict differently.What NOT to do during conflict:Harsh or Aggressive Startup:A harsh or aggressive startup is when you start a conversation with an accusing,domineering, critical, or sarcastic tone. When we have a harsh start-up we put ourpartner on the defensive. When our partner is on the defensive he or she is not able tohear our compliant or concern as their energy goes into defending themselves from ourattack.Critical Statements:A critical statement goes beyond the compliant we may have. When we have acompliant we are discussing a specific action that has occurred. When we are criticalwe are making a statement about our partner. Criticism moves beyond the compliant asyou are now judging your partner’s character. Below is an example of the differencebetween a compliant and a critical statement:Complaint:I was really looking forward to spending time with you tonight. I was upset that youmade other plans.www.relationalconnections.com www.DecodingHim.com
  2. 2. Criticism:You never think about me first, you always just think about yourself. Of course youmade other plans tonight.As you can see from the statements above the criticism moves into calling your partnerselfish by stating that our partner “always” puts themselves first where the compliant isdiscussing how an action has affected us.Contemptuous Statements:Contemptuous statements are extreme criticism. Examples of contemptincludes: name-calling, eye-rolling, sneering, mockery, and hostile humor. Thecombination of a critical statement and a contemptuous behavior is the most damagingthing you can do in a relationship. You are not only judging your partners character butyou are also portraying disgust. Gottman concludes that contempt is the number oneindicator a relationship will end.Defensive responses:When your partner brings up a compliant and you immediately defend yourself yourpartner begins to feels invalidated. By taking a defensive stance you areeffectively blaming your partner for their complaint and it will actually escalate theconflict versus resolving it. Now you and your partner are too busy trying to prove whois right to address the compliant or conflict.Stonewalling:Stonewalling is when you the tune out your partner during a conflict. Some indicatorsthat you are stonewalling during a conflict include: not giving your partner eye contact,not following up with cues to show you are listening, or physically walking out of theroom. You are actively choosing to not engage your partner’s concerns during aconflict. Stonewalling can be just as damaging as criticism, contempt, ordefensiveness. What you are saying when you stonewall is that what my partner has tosay it not important and I am not going to validate my partner’s attempt to address theconflict.Body Language:It is important to be aware of your body language during conflict. Body language cancommunicate a lot more than what you say. If what you are saying is followed by aneye roll, a sneer, or a shaking of the head we are communicating contempt. Beingaware of our body language can assist in more effective conflict management.www.relationalconnections.com www.DecodingHim.com
  3. 3. Tone of voice:The tone of your voice conveys a lot during a conflict. If you take a condescending toneit doesn’t matter what the words are coming out of your mouth. It is going to beinterrupted as criticism and your partner is going to become defensive. It is important topay attention to the tone in your voice during your conflict. Do you find your partnerstarting to be defensive when the words you are saying are not aggressive? This couldbe a cue it is the tone of your voice.Danger Zone:During conflict you are affected both emotionally and physically. For instance your bloodpressure raises, your heart beats faster, your body shakes, you cry, you yell, and youeven sweat. During conflict your body becomes physiologically aroused and you thinkirrationally. This is your instinctual fight or fight mode being activated. I tell my clientsthat the “reptilian” brain has taken over. No conflict resolution can be accomplishedwhen your physical body is activated. I would encourage you to be aware of thephysiologically signs that your body gives to indicate that you are headed to thismode. When you are physically aroused you are more likely to engage in thetroublesome behaviors listed above.If you do find yourself engaged in any of the behaviors from the list above takeaccountability with your partner after it occurs. This is the biggest step to healing theconflict, as your partner will feel heard. I mentioned above conflicts often occur incycles and it can be difficult to get out of them. At times you may need additional helpto stop the conflict that occurs in your relationship. This is when I would advise you tosee a couple’s therapist who specializes in systemic therapy.About the AuthorLyndsey Fraser is a licensed marriage and family therapist who is experienced inhelping people find healthy relationships. She emphasizes a collaborative approach in atransparent and interactive environment where each client’s experience is personalizedand tailored to his or her own needs. She has experience with many relational issues forcouples of all backgrounds including: dating, living together, engaged, married,separating, divorcing, and same-sex.To learn more about Lyndsey Fraser, MA, LMFT you can go to her websiteat www.relationalconnections.com.www.relationalconnections.com www.DecodingHim.com
  4. 4. For more free tips and insights on what really attracts a man, how tomake yourself irresistible to him and how to capture his heart, click the link below. www.decodinghim.comwww.relationalconnections.com www.DecodingHim.com