What is damaging to your relationship?

Updated: Mar 19

The Gottman Institute identified 4 communication styles, that are extremely damaging to relationships, and actually predict with great accuracy the end of a relationship, if people use them frequently.







The 4 styles are:

  1. Criticism – Attacking the other person on his character, on his being.

  2. Contempt – Being mean, mocking, ridiculing or using sarcasm.

  3. Defensiveness – Not taking responsibility, sometimes reversing the blame, or playing the victim.

  4. Stonewalling – Total withdrawal, “tuning out”, turning away, or being very “busy” with other matters.


Unfortunately, we all use those strategies from time to time… So I would like to give you the 4 “antidotes”, or HEALTHY COMMUNICATION TOOLS, and really recommend you start using them consciously in your relationship:

  1. Instead of Criticism – Use “I-statements”, talk about how YOU ARE FEELING, or what YOU NEED from the other person (without attacking or accusing him/her).

  2. Instead of Contempt – Make it a habit to express APPRECIATION, gratitude and affection.

  3. Instead of Defensiveness – Take RESPONSIBILITY on your part, do anything in your power to prevent the conflict to escalate, and do not hesitate to say sorry if you hurt the other person’s feelings.

  4. Instead of Stonewalling – When arguing, try to notice when you are feeling overwhelmed emotionally, and say you need a break. Take 15-20 minutes and do something that enhances your spirit, or relaxes you (listen to music, read, take a short walk…), just make sure to COME BACK and finish the conversation.



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