Four conflict styles that hurt your relationship

Criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling are four conflict styles which can seriously hurt you and your partner in arguments. See below for what these are and how not to fall into these harmful patterns. 

Criticism: Criticism is when you take aim at your partner and highlight some fault of theirs through a personal attack. ‘Never’ and ‘always’ statement such as “you never help around here” and “you are always home late” fall under criticism too. Instead, try this. Gently enter into a conversation with your partner to share how you are feeling about the situation and what you need. Use ‘I’ statement instead of ‘you’ statements.  

Defensiveness: While this is a natural response to criticism, defensiveness signals to your partner that their concerns don’t matter and comes across quite self-centred. Instead, try this. Take responsibility for your actions and your part in the situation.

Contempt: Contempt can rear its head in the form of sarcasm, eye-rolling, name-calling, mocking and other harmful forms on communication that are meant to bully your partner into your way of thinking. Instead, try this. Describe your own feelings and needs. Don’t describe your partner’s.

Stonewalling: Stonewalling is when you tend to shut down in the face of conflict. This can present as falling silent, being unwilling to engage with your partner and resistant to making successful repairs. Instead, try this. Physiological self-soothing in the form of deep breathing, mediation, going for a walk and taking space to feel more calm.


This article contains original content from The Relationship Room.

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