Common sense, and research says that good communication can improve relationships by increasing intimacy, trust and support. The opposite is also true. Poor communication can weaken bonds and create mistrust. Here are some examples of negative and even destructive attitudes and communication patterns that can actually increase conflict in a relationship. Are you following one of these steps without even knowing it?
1. Avoiding Conflict
Rather than discussing frustrations in a calm, respectful manner, some people just don’t say anything to their partner until they’re ready to explode, and then blurt it out in an angry, hurtful way. They assume this is the less stressful route, avoiding an argument altogether, but generally it causes more stress to both parties as tensions rise and a much bigger argument eventually results. It’s much healthier to address and resolve conflict right when it occurs, or as soon as you can be alone to discuss it like adults.
2. Being “Right”
It is very unproductive to think that there is a “right” way to look at things and a “wrong” way to look at things, and that your way of seeing things is right. Don’t demand that your partner see things the same way, and don’t take it as a personal attack if they have a different opinion. Look for a compromise or just agree to disagree, and remember that there’s not always a “right” or a “wrong.” Two points of view can both be valid.
When something happens that you don’t like, some people tend to blow the entire issue out of proportion by making generalizations. Avoid starting sentences with, “You always,” and, “You never,” as in, “You always come home late!” or, “You never do what I want to do!” Stop and think about whether or not this is really true. Also, don’t bring up past conflicts to throw the discussion off-topic and stir up more negativity. This stands in the way of true conflict resolution, and increases the level of conflict.
4. Being Defensive
Rather than addressing a partner’s complaints and truly contemplating if their point are valid, defensive people strongly deny any wrongdoing and don’t recognize that they could be contributing to a problem. Denying responsibility can alleviate some stress in the short run, but creates long-term problems when partners don’t establish effective communication and unresolved conflicts and continue to grow.