Spot Your ”Toxins”

What type of communication lead to successful relationships and high performing teams?

Or what type of behavior we won’t find in these relationship systems?

The quality of our personal and professional relationships has a direct impact on our quality of life.

There was a study conducted by psychologist John Gottman who studied teams and relationships over 30 years. He introduced the ¨dangerous 4 toxins¨ that has a damaging impact in our relationship systems. In my last workshop we were exploring those 4 toxins and the possible antidotes for those.

And this is what I would like to share with you in this post and I hope it will make your relationships systems healthier.

The first toxin is: criticism and blaming.

Those include aggressive attacks, judgement, accusations.  

Example of those could be: ‘you never do things right’, “you are irresponsible, you’re always late”, “you never support me”, etc.

What would be the antidote for criticism and blaming?

Antidote #1 Convert  blame into request, for example:

Can you please let me know next time you are coming late”, “I feel exhausted today, can you please support me with this task”.

Do you feel  the difference here? Instead of attacking another person you ask for an action.

The second toxin is: defensiveness (very common when your personality is being criticized).

This is usually a response to the first toxin, whenever we feel criticized we take a defensive approach.

Example could be: “It wasn’t me; it was you”, “It’s you that I cannot trust”

What could be the antidote whenever you feel defensive?

Antidote #2 – Repeat what you have heard and ask for clarification, find 2% of the truth in the blame you hear, for example: “I hear you are saying you cannot count on me, can you please clarify?” OR “It is true that sometimes I don’t prioritize well, so it might lead for you to think that I am not trustworthy.

Do you see how this redirects the conversation to another level? Instead of being defensive and escalating the conflict, you accept partially the truth and ask for clarification.

The third toxin is: contempt.

Contempt is sarcasm, belittling another person, cynicism and hostile humor.

Do you have anyone in your professional or personal circles that uses contempt constantly with you?

The examples of contempt could be receiving or using comments such as: “you are useless”, “you are not capable at all of doing this”, “how she could be dating someone like you”, etc.

What could be the antidote whenever you feel like someone is using contempt with you?

Antidote #3 – First, it is important to communicate clearly your feelings. For example “This type of comments make me feel very uncomfortable”.

Secondly, ask what is the intention of these comments, “what is your intention when you say this”.

Lot of people are not conscious about the emotional damage that comes with contempt, so stating your feelings, clarifying the intention and making a request to use another type of communication might be very useful.

The fourth toxin is: stonewalling.

That  includes cutting off communication, silent treatment, refusal to engage, withdrawal.

What would be the antidote whenever you observe that you start to cut off the communication or someone is doing it with you?

Antidote #4 – First of all, analyse and understand the reason of such behavior (maybe in the past another toxins  were used (for example, criticism) so person decides to cut off communication with you), or what makes you to cut off communication with somebody and how do you work with this toxin?

Secondly, take responsibility of your own behavior and communicate clearly if you need another type of communication from others instead of withdrawing yourself from any of your professional or personal relationship you care about.

I invite you to become conscious every time you use toxic communication with your family, partners or teams, as well as to spot this type of behavior in others, since all of them have direct impact on quality of your life.

As a challenge for this month, I invite you to select one relationship where toxins are present and start developing your own antidotes using the examples above in order to enhance the quality of your life and personal and professional relationships.

Wishing you to enjoy your relationships consciously!


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