One reason apologies feel hard to offer is that they’re colored by fear — fear of feeling shame, fear of feeling judged, fear of offering an olive branch that is not returned. To apologize, we must find ways to anticipate not only what will go wrong, but what also what could go right.
Fine-tuning communication skills and habits
Want to break the advice-giving habit but aren’t sure what to do instead? Want someone else to stop giving you unsolicited advice all the time? Here’s a good question to ask in those moments and a simple alternative to giving advice when what they really want is someone to listen. When someone tells you about […]
Feeling dissed? Here’s how to raise concerns about disrespect in a way that increases dialogue and decreases pushback. Twenty-seven years ago this past summer, I met my husband. Sometime in those first months of dating, he casually dropped a conversational bomb one day: Tammy, he said, you don’t treat me with respect when we disagree. […]
It’s hard to get better at listening during conflict by practicing during conflict. If you want to be a better listener, practice outside of a difficult conversation. The stakes will be lower and it’ll be easier to be on top of your game. Here are three simple ways to practice being a good listener in […]
Bickering, an argument about trivial matters, is one of those everyday bad habits that feeds the growth of destructive conflict in a relationship. When you teach yourself how to stop getting sucked into bickering, you give yourself and your relationship some fresh air. Here’s a short phrase that can help.
Some people do conflict loudly, whether due to familial or cultural roots, habit, or a low boiling point. When you want to interrupt someone’s habitual yelling during conflict, try to make the request without contributing to the fight. Someone screamed and yelled at me in public recently. Her anger had flared and yelling is her […]
Make it behavioral.
New research has identified six elements to an apology, and the more of those elements you include, the more effective your apology. But not all six elements are equally valuable. Two are particularly crucial to having your apology accepted. In 2008, Annie Wilson of Dallas, Texas, got a pretty memorable telephone call from her gardener. […]
Positive affirmations may be popular, but if you want to influence behavior, questions trump statements. But not just any old questions. One type of question in particular can create powerful psychological leverage for changing your own and others’ behavior. “Stay calm,” you remind yourself in difficult moments. “Don’t drink and drive,” say the public service […]
The stress of conflict has ramifications we’re only just beginning to understand: We can apparently “catch” someone else’s stress physiologically. Acute stress can desensitize us to another’s pain. And stress from the presence of a stranger may reduce the ability to empathize. But 15 minutes of shared experience might just help. Many years ago, I […]