The #1 relationship killer

Accusation is the #1 relationship killer.

The pointed finger. The shaking head. The muttered comment. The flaming email. The rolled eyes. The sarcastic joke. The angry comment at the bottom of a blog post or online article or Facebook post. The ranting coach. The screaming Tweet. The snarky jab. There are so many ways to accuse others. And we do it far more than we realize.

It’s important to express displeasure. But it’s equally important to do so in ways that don’t kill relationships. John Gottmann says that the best way to do this is simply by starting gently. Proverbs 15:1 puts is similarly: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

When we start gently with others, they have a sense that we’re on their side, even if what we eventually say stings a bit. This doesn’t mean using a soft, patronizing voice or other false kindnesses that make others feel belittled. This is real gentleness, a real softening.

[For more on this and Gottmann’s three other relationship killers, see How to kill a relationship in four easy steps.]

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