How do you predict a relationship is in trouble and may not succeed. I heard Dr. Henry Cloud describe four behaviors that would foreshadow a breakdown in a relationship.
- Criticism-the bulk of communication is critical with one party tearing down the other.
- Defensive-communication and problem solving is stunted, because defensiveness exists. Quality problem solving isn’t possible, because of the defensive nature of communication.
- Contempt- an air of discontent and bitterness exists as parties feel disregarded and discounted.
- Unplugged-communication dwindles to nothing as the pain of criticism, defensiveness and contempt bogs down the relationship.
Do you have any relationship where these conditions exist?
Criticism, defensiveness and contempt are like roaches. They creep into relationships and contaminate. They don’t leave until someone takes action to exterminate them.
If you have this kind of relationship, it may be time to take stock.
- Bite your critical tongue. Praise in relationships is much more effective. Find good things to say or say nothing.
- Shelve your defensive behavior. Listen for feedback. Mine out the kernels of truth. Work hard to clarify the issues and move to a problem solving mode.
- Replace contempt with respect. Consider there are two sides to every issue. Strive to understand the other side.
Remember that you have your faults and can create frustration as well. A preacher, Tim Keller, says this: “We would be more patient and kind with people and less hurt if we regularly remembered that we all have deep core faults.”
Patience and kindness is respect.