The answer is yes. Let’s review what The Four Horsemen are: Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt and Stonewalling. They are the four biggest predictors of divorce. This is based from The Gottmans research. They have done over four decades of research in working with couples. They have found that there is overlap into the workplace. They have also found that when couples stop using The Four Horsemen in their relationship and change how they communicate with one another, they will change how they communicate with people outside the relationship. Not only will they see their relationship change, they will see other relationships in their life change. Here are the antidotes to The Four Horsemen:
- Complain without blame. This means start the conversation gently. The Gottmans have found in their research that the way you start a conversation predicts how you will end a conversation. This also sets the tone for the conversation when the topic comes up again. This is a great time to use “I” statements: ‘I feel left out, I’d like to talk about my day, as well.” Instead of, ‘You never listen to me.’
- Take responsibility for your behavior. Defensiveness is defined as self-protection in the form of righteous indignation or innocent victimhood to ward of a perceived attack. It’s easy to feel defensive when you have been criticized. The problem is, being defensive never helps solve the problem. This is a way of blaming your partner or co-worker. Let your partner know that you are taking some responsibility for the problem. For example, ‘Part of this is my problem and I need more time to think about it.’
- Stop feeling superior. You have this dialogue of criticize and defend. While this is happening you begin to feel like I don’t need this anymore, I’m better than this, etc. Some examples of contempt are: sarcasm, cynicism, name-calling, eye rolling, sneering, mockery and hostile humor. The antidote is building a culture of appreciation and respect and stating what you need from one another.
- Stop the silent treatment. People stonewall when they feel like they just can’t take it anymore. This if the flight part of fight or flight. You want to learn to self-soothe. Take a twenty minute break. Do some deep breathing, take a walk, and don’t think about the situation that is upsetting you. It’s important to tell the other person what you are doing. Don’t just walk away, agree on a time to come back and talk about it, where both of you aren’t angry anymore.
The Four Horsemen all go together. You can’ have one without the other. When you put the antidotes into affect in your life, you will start to see your life change. Not only in your relationship but at work, as well. For more help, please call me at (650) 892-0357 for a consultation.