Sometimes the way we express our thoughts and behave leaves a lot to be desired. We are brutal, rude and have no regard for the feelings of others. Some of these expressions can cause so much damage that they destroy friendships, families and relationships. What are those attitudes? And how can they destroy personal relationships and upset us?
More specifically, we refer to criticism, contempt, and complete withdrawal. We could say that these are all oversimplified behaviors. When we do these things, we take a leap into the unknown. This is due to a misunderstood, honest comment. However, being honest doesn’t mean we can’t be tactful, delicate, and reserved. We can say the same thing in different ways without hurting anyone. Let’s take a closer look at the attitudes that destroy personal relationships.
How we destroy personal relationships
When someone makes an innocent comment in a rude or disrespectful way, they inadvertently activate the emotional part of our brain. But in a negative rather than a positive way. This activation thus creates a dilemma between two actions. Our goal is to protect ourselves: flee or fight.
Normally when we feel attacked, hurt, or offended by someone we trust, we tend to ignore their comment. However, it is also possible that we react angrily to them. What we ultimately decide will depend on the level of opposition or hostility we feel.
However, the effect a comment has on us tends to be the same. Anger, anger or disgust at the person who made it. So if he verbally assaults us every time we see him, at some point we get tired of it. No one likes to spend time with someone who constantly makes them feel bad about themselves. For this reason, we decide to end the relationship.
The critical attitude
“You always leave everything on the floor,” “You never wash your hands before eating,” “You always come late, everyone hates it” are examples of destructive criticism. Besides the fact that no solution is offered for the behavior, they are sentences that use empathic and defining words such as ‘always’ and ‘never’. These are expressions that leave no room for understanding or flexibility of behavior.
However, criticism can be turned into a constructive suggestion or exchanged for a less hurtful comment. In this way we can avoid quarrels, misunderstandings and the breakdown of our relationships.
To the previous examples, we might add, “If you leave everything on the floor, I’ll have to pick it up. I already have enough daily chores. It would be nice if you help me.” Or “If you arrive late, you embarrass me. I don’t like having to apologize every time it happens.”
The contemptuous attitude
While criticism usually manifests itself through speech, contempt can manifest itself in two ways: in gestures and verbally. Gestures are more subtle, but just as destructive as words.
Let’s look at some examples. A group of friends have organized a dinner party after not seeing each other for a long time. One of them realizes that the others are criticizing her, instead of being friendly. Or there’s that boss who, every time he talks about that one employee, looks up as if to ask if they could please shut up. Both are very painful for those who have to receive it.
The language of sarcasm is another form of contempt. It is a form of hidden aggression that, if misunderstood or used at the wrong time, can do a lot of damage.
Fighting back and complete withdrawal: attitudes that exacerbate the conflict situation
Sometimes we believe that when we are attacked we only have two options: fight back or escape. If we go for the first, then the most logical thing is that we automatically answer with the first thing that comes to mind. This is usually not a pleasant thing. This causes the other person to become upset and therefore also able to fight back towards us. In this way, you both lose yourself in a dangerous vicious circle that is difficult to stop.
Fighting back is one of the attitudes that destroys relationships. A trap that can have serious consequences if you don’t know how to manage it. Emotional wounds are difficult to heal.
On the other hand, complete retreat is like total surrender on a battlefield. It is the consequence of an intense power struggle between two people. So after several weeks or months of constant attacks, criticism or ridicule, one of the two will choose to surrender. An attempt is made to seek dialogue instead of confrontation.
Try and wait
At the same time, this attitude makes the other person furious, because they are still waiting for an attack to feed their own. Eventually, when they don’t get a violent response, they will get angry and yell. Some people don’t know when to respect the other person’s breather. Instead of waiting, they exacerbate the conflict with their behavior and attitudes.
As we can see, the attitudes that destroy personal relationships are usually not pleasant. Neither are their consequences. If someone criticizes us (in a destructive way), we are unlikely to be their friend. If we constantly complain to our partner, we do everything in our power to drive them away. Yet we keep doing it.
Sometimes it’s worth taking a breather. And to become aware of what is happening. Instead of going on without considering the consequences.