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Four Signs a Relationship Is Failing
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The 3rd Horseman: Defensiveness

Denying responsibility, making excuses, meeting one complaint with another, and other forms of defensiveness are problematic, because they prevent a conflict from reaching any sort of resolution. Defensiveness only serves to accelerate the anxiety and tension experienced by both parties, and this makes it difficult to focus on the larger issues at hand that need to be resolved.

Overcoming Defensiveness

To overcome defensiveness, you have to be willing to listen carefully to the other party’s complaint, even if you don’t see things the same way. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. Instead, you focus on fully understanding the other person’s perspective so that you can work together towards resolving the conflict. It’s critical that you work to remain calm. Once you understand why the other person is upset, it’s much easier to find common ground than if you dismiss their opinions defensively.

The 4th Horseman: Stonewalling

Stonewalling is what happens when one person shuts the discussion down by refusing to respond. Examples of stonewalling include the silent treatment, being emotionally distant or devoid of emotion, and ignoring the other person completely. Stonewalling is problematic, because it aggravates the person being stonewalled and it prevents the two from working on resolving the conflict together.

Overcoming Stonewalling

The key to overcoming stonewalling is to participate in the discussion. If you’re stonewalling because the circumstances are leaving you feeling overwhelmed, let the other person know how you’re feeling and ask for some time to think before continuing the discussion. Maintain eye contact and a forward posture and nod your head to let the other person know that you are engaged in the discussion and listening even when you don’t have something to say. If you stonewall as a matter of practice, you need to realize that participating in discussions and working together to resolve conflict are the only ways to keep your relationships from crumbling.  August 2011

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Travis Bradberry, Ph.D.

Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the cofounder of TalentSmart, the world's leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training, serving more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies. His bestselling books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries. Dr. Bradberry has written for, or been covered by, Newsweek, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Harvard Business Review.

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