In all of our conversations about communication lately we’ve laid out tips, tricks, and suggestions for more effective interactions with people in your life. We have to recognize that nothing is perfect however and today, we’re talking about communication pitfalls and how to get out of them or avoid them all together
Our communication series began in Episode 12 when we discussed Communication Styles, then we shared a list of rules to use when you talk with one another. We spent two weeks on getting defensive and how to address defensiveness and then last week we talked about how to have productive arguments. This episode describes the four pitfalls as described by Dr. John Gottman - a leading expert in marital relationships. He calls them the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and we describe how they undermine communication in all relationships.
Criticism attacks the character of the person you are talking with. It erodes the foundation of a relationship and ultimately leads to contempt. Criticism is easily identified by the use of YOU statements.
Treating someone with contempt is downright mean. It’s when we mock, ridicule, name call, mimic, and overall demonstrate disrespect. The target of contempt will feel unloved and develop feelings of worthlessness. Gottman suggests that a contemptuous relationship is a predictor of divorce.
Defensiveness is a way of turning blame around and eliminates potential for healthy conflict resolutions. We talk a lot about defensiveness in episodes 14 & 15. You can listen for a review.
When someone engages the proverbial “silent treatment”, they withdraw, shut down, and stop reacting. They might act busy, disengage, or storm out. The primary behavior is avoiding the confrontation altogether. Stonewalling is a serious symptom of DIS-communication. Generally, it’s the result of years of negativity. Often preceded by criticism, contempt, and defensiveness. By the time people notice it… it’s a bad, bad habit.
Listen to the episode to understand how to mitigate these destructive barriers to good communication and to hear what we recommend you try at home!