monday morning survey: conflict management style

Conflict is something that we all have to deal with; some of us more than others. Whether you're arguing with your partner about money, disagreeing with your children about chores, or fighting with a friend about some crazy drama in your life, many of us experience some form of conflict on a daily basis. While we're all are confronted with conflict, how we decide to deal with it has great implications for how that conflict is (or isn't) resolved.

You can take this Conflict Management Style survey to determine your typical conflict style.

Click HERE to take another one of my "monday morning surveys."

the four horsemen of the apocalypse

Have you been arguing with your mate more often than usual in recent months? Have you been feeling overly defensive during conversations with your significant other? Does it seem like your partner is always criticizing you? Well, I'm sorry to say this, but your relationship as you know it, may be heading south.

John Gottman and his colleagues at the University of Washington have studied the interaction patterns of more than 2,000 couples over the last 20 years and have made many claims about how relationships end. Below are Gottman's "four horsemen of the apocalypse," or four warning signs that your relationship may be ending.

  • Criticism: Everyone complains about their mates. However, relationships become vulnerable to ending when that complaining turns into criticism. Criticism is different from complaining in that complaining tends to be specific (i.e. You didn't call me this afternoon.), while criticism is defined by more general comments that attack a person's personality (i.e. You never call me. You're so unreliable!). In order to avoid criticism, you can learn to complain more effectively. First, focus on one specific behavior when you're complaining to your mate. Also, try not to overgeneralize the behavior being complained about to the person's personality. If criticism consumes your relationship, however, it may be time to end it.
  • Defensiveness: Defensiveness is usually a response people have during conflict including complaining or criticism, where they shift the blame to someone or something else, whine about what is being said to them, make excuses for their behaviors, or offer more complaints and criticism to their partners. Instead of becoming defensive, individuals in healthy relationships will accept a complaint from a partner and try to work towards a solution. To avoid defensiveness, Gottman offers a few steps. First, when your mate is initiating conflict with you, try to be calm. Getting excited or angered won't help the situation. Second, listen to what your mate is saying. If you listen carefully, you'll probably be able to understand what your partner is actually upset about. Lastly, try to respond non-defensively. Gottman argues that "we need to ignore what's being said about us and learn to hear our partner's negativity as an attempt to underline how strongly she or he feels about the problem and what desperate measures are being employed to get us to pay attention."
  • Contempt: Gottman defines contempt as "the intention to insult and psychologically abuse your partner" and as an "immediate decay of admiration." Contempt includes a multitude of behaviors like mocking, insults, gestures of disgust, eye rolling, name calling, and the like. How can you avoid contempt? Just don't do it. That's it.
  • Stonewalling: Emotional distance, ignoring one another, being unresponsive in conversations, and giving someone the silent treatment are all examples of stonewalling. Stonewalling is a good sign of a troubled relationship. To avoid stonewalling your partner, engage in behaviors like eye contact, head nods, and physical gestures to show you're interested. If your partner is stonewalling you, you may want to begin talking about where your relationship is heading with him or her.

So, if you've been experiencing one or more of these signs of the apocalypse with your partner, make an effort to work on your relationship or you may not have a relationship for much longer.

  • Gottman, J., & Silver, N. (1994). Why marriages succeed or fail: And how you can make yours last. New York: Simon & Schuster.

For more information about these four signs, see the following resources:

wise love words: flirting over 50

Whether you're looking for love or just looking to have a good time, flirting can be a fun and easy first step. Check out this great article about flirting over age 50. From "being subtle" to "paying attention to personal clues," this article provides 9 great "rules" of flirting that can be used by anyone at any age.

Click HERE to read all of my "wise love words" posts

speed-dating 101

This is a Special Post

"Speed-Dating 101"

Written by: Jordan & Kelly; Edited by: Jennie

Are you a workaholic?  Are you the type of person who is constantly on the go and never seems to have enough time to do things that you would like to do?  Is it hard for you to find enough time to get day-to-day activities done, let alone go out for a drink and try and find that perfect mate?  If this sounds like something that you can relate to, continue reading to learn more about speed dating. Speed dating is quickly becoming a way for people of all ages to meet and get to know a number of potential dates in a short amount of time.

In today’s fast paced society, where our jobs take precedence in our lives, it’s hard to find time to date and find that person that is right for us. Everything that we do now a days is quick and convenient, from the way we eat to the way we workout. Maximizing your time is essential to getting tasks done. It’s only fitting that the dating game should also adapt to fit our busy schedules. Prior to attending a speed dating event, where you could meet up to twelve people in two hours, potential daters register online with a speed dating company so they can be notified of an upcoming event. Once they are at the event, daters receive a number and an information card so they can rate the various people that they meet. Usually, the women remain seated around the room and the men rotate every six to eight minutes on the coordinator’s call. If two people both rate each other as having a potentially romantic attraction to each other, they are provided with the other person’s contact information so they can set up a second date.

I know what you’re thinking: can people actually know if a person is right for them in just a few minutes? Well, a recent 2008 study by Marian L. Houser and her colleagues from Texas State University-San Marcos says that you can. The researchers collected data at multiple speed dating events in two large southern cities over a six-month period. Overall, there were 157 participants (82 men and 75 women) ranging from 25 to 60 years old. For the purpose of this study, the participants in these speed dating events knew that the researchers were present and were asked to complete an anonymous and voluntary survey when they were half way complete with the evening (after the 6th of 12 mini-dates). The researchers took note of three criteria when evaluating and questioning the participants: attraction, nonverbal immediacy, and similarity.

The first item was interpersonal attraction. This can be broken down in to three parts. First, physical attraction is what we think of a person based on appearance. Second, social attraction is how much we desire to socialize with a certain person. Finally, task attraction is how much we desire to work with a person. Physical attraction is a very dominant predictor in determining how we feel about a person and how much we desire to have future relations with that person. Because of this, it typically takes precedence in a speed-dating situation like this (Berscheid & Walster, 1969).

The second item that was assessed was nonverbal immediacy, which involves the participant’s eye contact, physical closeness, facial expressions, body posture and vocal variety (Andersen et al., 1979). All of these different aspects of interpersonal communication can tell a lot about how a person feels with even saying a word.

The final item assessed in this speed-dating exercise was homophily. This term describes how people tend to gravitate towards individuals who display similar qualities to their own (Arindell & Lutejin, 2000). People tend to find comfort in associating with others that look similar to them and share the same beliefs. Similarity could certainly create a much smoother, more comfortable six-minute date, which might also generate a desire for future interaction.

The results of this study showed that attraction and nonverbal cues increased the possibility of landing a second date. With that in mind, it takes more than looks to land a second date. What can you do nonverbally to get him interested in you? Hold eye contact, touch his shoulder, hand, or arm, or even try using an engaging voice. Last but not least, remember to smile! Nonverbal cues are strongly correlated to likeability in initial interactions, as well as in the long run.

Attractiveness is also important. You may be able to flirt with ease, but if you forget to take care of your appearance, you may not get the results you were hoping for. Remember to be social and outgoing. Think about it, most people find silent dates to be awkward; figure out a few topics to discuss and stay confident. Owning your own social skills can be a total turn on for a man. Lastly, dress the way you want others to see you. If you go out wearing sweatpants and oversized t-shirts, you may not hit it off the way you wanted. “Dress to impress” may be just a saying, but one that could change your path in the dating world. 

Now that you understand that nonverbal communication and attraction are two great ways to win your man over; there is one last step that could get you that second date. Although similarity is not as significant for women, it is for men (Houser et al., 2008), men like to know that their partner enjoys similar hobbies, can talk about similar topics, or simply comes from a similar background. Point out your similarities and watch the conversation soar.

So, stop dreading the weekend and start planning your night out! Keep these three small tips in mind, and go find your other half… or at least your other half for the evening. Dress to impress, smile, and find things you have in common to discuss.  Your future can change with three key factors; attraction, nonverbal cues, and similarity. Get up, get out, and go find your future mate. The longer you wait, the less time you have to live happily ever after.

  • Houser, M. L., Horan, S. M., Furler, L. A. (2008).  Dating in the fast lane:  How communication predicts speed-dating success.  Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 25, 749-768.

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