How To Manage Conflict & Build Relationships That Last

How To Manage Conflict & Build Relationships That Last

Executive Summary

  • The Foundation: funding your Emotional Bank Account
  • The Gottman framework of The Sound Realtionship House
  • The Gottman Method: the 9 Components Of Relational Health (very meaty)
  • Putting these techniques in practice in your own life

If you have not yet read Part 1: Dealing With Others, available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

“Process is everything”, says Gottman. Change the process, change the outcome.

So, if you’re experiencing frustration or unwanted friction in relationships that are important to you, how should you go about changing your process in order to enjoy a better outcome?

The Gottman Institute has created a progression to follow, distilling decades of insights from its couples research into an intuitve framework that’s easy to understand and remember. It’s called The Sound Relationship House.

Each “floor” of the house represents an essential component of relationship health. Progressing upwards from one floor to next fortifies relational bonds and makes it harder for confict to weaken them when it arises.

But, as with any house, a strong foundation helps. So before we tackle the Gottman progression, it’s essential first to build your relationship house on solid ground.

Setting Your Relationship Up For Success

We mentioned in Part 1 that repair during and after a fight is the key relationship success.

But to repair well, your partner needs to be receptive to your efforts. What’s the best predictor of receptivity? A flourishing Emotional Bank Account.

The Emotional Bank Account is a concept developed by the Gottmans to convey the importance of building up goodwill between you and your partner in advance of problems arising. When there’s a reservior of “emotional savings” already in deposit, a relationship is more able to withstand any given challenge of the moment. But if the account is empty, even small annoyances can trigger the 4 Horsemen.

“Bids for connection” are what add and subtract to your emotional savings. Partners are making these bids all the time in a relationship — preparing a meal for someone, sharing news or an idea that interest you, reaching out for physical connection, listening attentively.

When we respond to a bid from our parnter — clink! — we’ve just made a deposit. And when we ignore or react negatively to a bid — poof! — a withdrawal’s been made.

Investing in your Emotional Bank Account takes work. Gottman observed that long-term happy couples exhibit a ratio of 20:1 positive-to-negative interactions on any given day. That’s because failed bids withdraw more savings than successful bids deposit (i.e., you need multiple positive interactions to offset a single negative one).

And when altercations arise, you still need to work on making those deposits in the heat of the moment. Those same long-term successful couples maintain a 5:1 ratio of positivity to negativity during conflct. Those in unstable relationships, on the other hand, typically display a 1.25:1 (or worse) negativity to postivity ratio when fighting.

They key here is to work on developing…

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