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making marriage workIn his book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, Dr. John Gottman introduces the concept of “repair attempts” to minimize out of control conflict. According to Gottman, the success or failure of a couple’s repair attempts is one of the primary factors in whether their marriage flourishes or flounders. Along with Dr. Gottman’s principles, I’ve included my own practical applications for your marriage. Practice these reparative strategies regularly and watch your friendship grow.

A repair attempt is defined as any statement or action–silly or otherwise–that prevents negativity from escalating. Here are a few examples of phrases that can be effective repair attempts. Keep in mind that the absence of repair attempts is a strong predictor of marital failure.

1. Apologizing

“I over reacted, I’m sorry.”

“I can see my part in all this.”

“I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”

Saying you’re sorry without feeling it, or providing a genuine “heartfelt” apology can be damaging. Be sure that as you apologize, you are sincere. It will make a big difference in your marriage.

2. Taking a time out

“Let’s take a break.”

“Give me just a moment. I’ll be back.”

“I think we are getting off track. Can we start over?”

Rest is important. If you feel there has been a shift of direction into a bad area, regroup and reconvene so that things are clear and as a result, accurate.

3. Calming each other down

“I need things to be calmer right now.”

“Can I take that back?”

“I don’t feel safe right now.”

Don’t be afraid to correct course and admit if you’ve said something incorrect, hurtful or inaccurate. By sharing that you know things are wrong, you are moving towards a solution. Both of you will become more calm if you aren’t afraid to make sure you

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Giving Effective FeedbackGiving effective feedback is a critically important part of the communication process within the workplace. Most people find it easy to offer positive comments, but avoid giving negative feedback because they fear confrontation and conflict.

While criticism isn’t easy for anyone, it is necessary to receive honest appraisals from those you work with in order to better understand where you stand with your co-workers and supervisors. Unfortunately, the need for improvement is not always conveyed or responded to in a constructive fashion.

Giving feedback requires specific skills you can learn if you practice. Below is a list of 10 tips that can greatly improve your communication and result in better interpersonal relationships and performance at work.

1. Provide information that is descriptive and objective. When describing your thoughts stick to the facts rather than bringing in your personal interpretation as much as possible.

2. Avoid using labels to describe behavior such as “unprofessional” or “irresponsible.” These words are ambiguous and unclear and do little to help the receiver understand what you are looking for.

3. Try to eliminate extreme words such as “always” or “never.” These words often trigger a defensive reaction and will draw the conversation away from the real issue.

4. Avoid words that convey value judgments or personal attacks such as “good,” “bad,” “stupid,” or “incompetent.” These words reflect an authoritarian interpersonal style which greatly undermines the value of the feedback. Rather than telling someone that they are rude or insensitive, it would be better to say something such as, “You have been late three days in a row and consequently missed the first 15 minutes of the last three team meetings. This has put us all behind schedule.”

5. Assess the receiver’s readiness for the feedback. Timing is very important, so if you sense that the

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Confronting WellMost people fear confrontation. The thought of speaking up – especially during a conflict or uncomfortable situation – can be almost paralyzing. However, the ability to effectively confront tough issues by clearly stating what you think, feel, and want can be one of the most valuable interpersonal skills a person can possess. The ten keys listed below can help prepare you for those difficult conversations.

1. Objectively describe your concern

Stick to the facts only when describing your concern or complaint. If you begin by talking about the other person’s motives or intentions, you’re likely to trigger a defensive or angry reaction.

2. Avoid making it personal

Address the action or behavior without attacking the person with criticism, name calling or blame. Negative personal comments can damage your relationship, even into the future.

3. Keep your comments brief and to the point

Reserve the lectures for the classroom because they never benefit relationships. If your goal is to influence positive behavioral change and resolution, less is more.

4. Resist getting sucked into an argument

If your comments are met with hostility, blame or defensiveness, fight the temptation to argue your position. Instead, state what you believe needs to be said and then end the conversation. Arguing is often destructive and will likely make the situation worse.

5. Avoid getting sidetracked

It’s easy for irrelevant or unrelated issues to sneak into a discussion when confronting a difficult issue. Commit to only addressing one concern or complaint at a time, and it will increase the likelihood of an acceptable outcome.

6. Express your thoughts and feelings

Expressing what you feel openly and honestly at the outset of a difficult conversation will help to reduce anxiety and diffuse pent up emotion that might otherwise escalate during the discussion. For example, stating, “I am