I would like to start with noting that the assigned talk by John Gottman offers quite a few valuable insights into intricate dynamics of long-term romantic relationships and makes a number of very practical suggestions that can help people be more prepared for married life and be more likely to make their marriage work. As I was listening to Dr. John Gottman, I was thinking of numerous fights I have seen happening between couples and of the difficulties couples I know could have avoided if they were following Dr. Gottman’s advice. At the same time, I was reflecting on my own ways of communicating and reacting to the comments people make to spot any major mistakes I was doing that could get in the way of building a successful relationship and thinking of how I could employ Dr. Gottman’s suggestions to become better with people.
As the lecture itself prompted many memories of failing communication there was no shortage of the witnessed situations to choose from. To avoid disclosing any personal information, I will discuss an example of failed communication that happened in the process of teamwork. Some time ago, I was on a team that was working together on a complex project that required us to produce creative results within a relatively short time frame. Working on the team was rather tense and this pressure has led to the ongoing conflict of my two fellow team members who seemed to be arguing about everything. Every small decision we had to make as a team they seemed to have radically opposing opinions with no willingness to make compromises on both sides.
The two team members were not just arguing about small technical details, they were constantly attacking and criticizing each other personally. Such behavior is recognized as one of the horsemen of apocalypses by Dr. Gottman for a reason. Namely, the harsh treatment toward each other has contributed to an unhealthy climate where no one felt safe enough to be creative and to express their ideas as everyone feared being criticized by others. Further, as everyone was trying to be right instead of trying to find a solution, it was very difficult to make decisions and to work together as everyone tried to do their part of the project without involving anyone else even through cooperation and discussion could have benefited the outcomes. As a result, our project was not of good quality.
While the described case does not concern romantic relationship, there are a few things Dr. Gottman has outlined in his lecture that could have helped the communication process on our team. First and foremost, it was a terrible mistake of the two people who were in conflict to interpret their disagreements as resulting out of their personal flaws. While disagreeing and arguing can be productive, it has to revolve around concrete ideas and actions and not around who they are as people. If they used their energy and enthusiasm to work through and improve the parts they disagreed on, we could have accomplished more as a team.
Secondly, the two people who were dragging the whole team into an unhealthy atmosphere seemed to be constantly looking for mistakes and bad sides in the ideas offered by others, debunking good suggestions on the basis of small unsatisfying details. Instead, they could have focused on positive and productive aspects of the voiced ideas as these positive and constructive aspects could have served as the basis of further brainstorming for the team. Overall, just like Dr. Gottman has noted in his talk, all members of our team should have focused more on finding things to appreciate in each other instead of scanning the environment for things to criticize.
- Making Marriage Work. Dr. John Gottman. (2018, January 30). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKTyPgwfPgg.