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Psychologists Find 5 Keys To A Lasting Relationship (That Are Seldom Mentioned)

Psychologists Find 5 Keys To A Lasting Relationship (That Are Seldom Mentioned)

Countless articles have been written about how to have a successful, long-lasting relationship or marriage, but none seem to be as simple and powerful as Dr. John Gottman’s ideas on what makes love last.

You see, many people cite “Irreconcilable differences” as the reason for broken relationships or divorce, but the idea that major differences in opinion end long-term relationships is actually a myth.

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According to Gottman, a leading researcher and psychologist who has spent the past 40 years researching what makes love work, it’s not a difference of opinion that ends relationships; it’s the inability to communicate differing opinions or accept them as equally valid. Essentially, relationships live and die not by the sword, but by the quality of communication.

Moreover, because having healthy relationships means so much to many of us, we often feel other people judge us based on our choice of partner. As a result, our sense of worthiness gets attached to who and how our partner is. We project what we want our partner to be onto who they are, and get frustrated and even dismissive when they don’t live up to our projections.

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If you are in a relationship and would like to know how you can make it strong and long-lasting, or you simply want to know what the chances of your relationship remaining intact over time are, there are five key points Dr. Gottman says you should look out for. These points will make any relationship more meaningful and long-lasting.

Gottman’s ideas for a lasting relationship should be common knowledge, but – unfortunately – they are seldom mentioned.

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1. You begin conversations as gently and kindly as you would with an esteemed coworker.

This is especially true when it comes to sensitive conversations. You don’t begin interactions with sarcasm, contempt, anger, blame, criticism, and the like because doing so causes defenses to rise and the ability to communicate dissolves. Instead, you are kind and gentle always because you believe your partner is a true equal, as opposed to someone who is “beneath you.” When you believe someone is your true “equal,” you regard them as well as you would want them to regard you.

2. You complain, but you don’t criticize.

Getting upset and complaining about things like the dishes not being done or the toilet seat being left up again is normal and almost inevitable in a healthy relationship. But, as soon as the moaning and complaining shifts from “I’m really angry with you for not doing the dishes” to “You’re stupid/lazy/disgusting/irresponsible for letting this happen,” the relationship is headed for real trouble.

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3. You are neither contemptuous to one another nor to other people.

Sadly, bullying tactics used in middle school, like name-calling, sneering, and mocking, are common in intimate relationships. But, relationships that employ these tactics don’t last. If you and your partner are not the type of people who would resort to that type of mentality to begin with, that is a good sign. It means you fight clean, and that will help your relationship weather many storms and last.

4. You are willing to absorb the blame so as to quell problems or bridge rifts.

You know it takes two to tango, and it takes two parties to create a problem. So, you are not always in defensive mode or determined to show your partner how and why they are wrong. You approach issues with “here’s how I think we got into this problem, and here’s how I’d like us to get out of it.”

5. You don’t “stonewall,” “tune out,” or ignore each other.

“Stonewalling” or “tuning out” your partner, particularly during rough patches in the relationship, is a sure way to hurt the relationship. Interestingly, Dr. Gottman’s research has shown that in 85% of marriages, men are the ones who “stonewall” their partners. Women are more capable of soothing themselves in stressful situations and so they are less standoffish or indignant about confrontation. Men — watch out for that.

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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