How to know if the link with your partner is in a delicate moment? These are the warning signs.
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A new relationship , whether personal, romantic or professional , closely resembles the purchase of a car. Taking it out of the store is pure happiness. As you look around, you can barely contain the emotion: everything smells, sounds and looks fantastic. You spend happy weeks or months, maybe even years, when you suddenly realize that you need some adjustment. Like a car, a relationship that “breaks down” can overwhelm you, and leave you standing by the side of the road asking you what went wrong.
A trained eye knows when a car is in trouble. From the sound of speed to the gases that leave the exhaust pipe, there are signs that indicate discomfort. The same goes for relationships … and you could become your own mechanic. Researchers at the University of Washington discovered four indicators that a relationship is failing, and named them “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” They are able to predict the success or failure of a relationship with 93 percent accuracy.
The four horsemen of the apocalypse
The four riders reveal problems applicable to relationships of all kinds. They represent counterproductive actions that we can easily be victims of when we allow our emotions to control us. As you read each rider and consider their relevance in your relationships, remember that the conflict itself is not a problem. The conflict is actually a normal element between two people who have different needs, but with the interest of working together .
The Washington researchers found that the amount of conflict has nothing to do with the success of a relationship, but the way in which these conflicts are handled. Put into practice the following strategies to overcome each of the riders.
The first rider: the critic
Criticism should not be confused with feedback or the fact that the other person changes or improves some things. Criticism is such when it is not constructive (“This report is terrible”). In its most worrisome way, it focuses on the person's personality, character or interests rather than a specific action or something we would like to change (“You are awful to write. You are disorganized and not punctual”).
How to overcome criticism:
If you find yourself criticizing when you planned to be constructive, it is best to wait to give your feedback until you have planned it well. You must think about what you will say and adhere to the script. It is also better if you focus your feedback on a specific behavior, as your reactions to various behaviors can easily be perceived as critical. If you discover that you cannot give feedback without generalizing or talking about the personality of the other person… better try not to say anything.
Second rider: contempt
Contempt is any sign of disrespect for another person. It often includes comments whose purpose is to offend, or even insults. Contempt is also observed in more subtle and indirect ways, such as rolling your eyes or releasing insults disguised as jokes.
How to overcome contempt
Contempt arises from a lack of interest in the other person. When you discover that you do not enjoy being with someone or that you do not admire her – perhaps there are things about him or her that used to be interesting or charming and have lost their shine – contempt can unexpectedly surface.
If your selflessness is inevitable and the relationship is not going anywhere, then you need to focus on working on the relationship itself. Those who manage their relationships well have been able to see the benefit of establishing many connections , even with people they don't care about. In the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln: “I don't like that man. I have to know him better.”
Third rider: defensive attitude
Denying responsibility for our actions, making excuses, refuting a complaint with another and other defensive attitudes are problematic, since they prevent a conflict from reaching any kind of resolution. The defensive attitude only accelerates the tension between two parties, and makes it difficult to concentrate on the larger issues that need to be resolved.
How to overcome the defensive attitude
To overcome the defensive attitude, you must be willing to listen carefully to the other person's complaints, even if you don't see things the same way. This does not mean you have to agree. However, this vision allows you to fully understand the perspective of the other person and work together to resolve the conflict . It is very important that you learn to remain calm. Once you understand why the other person feels bad, it is much easier to find common ground.
Fourth rider: obstructionism
When a person refuses to respond and ends an argument, remains silent, is emotionally distant or completely ignores the other person, creates a stone wall. This attitude is otherwise problematic, as it aggravates the ignored person and prevents both parties from resolving the conflict.
How to overcome the stone wall
The key to overcoming obstructionism is to participate in the discussion. If you are putting up a wall because circumstances overwhelm you, let the other person know how you feel and ask for some time to think before continuing the discussion. Maintain eye contact and a firm posture , and move your head so that the other person knows that you are interested and listen to it even when you have nothing to say.
If you have made this practice a habit, it is time for you to realize that participating in discussions and working together to resolve a conflict are the only ways to prevent your relationships from falling apart.