Trust, Friendship and Listening

Today is not based off of any single video as I did a ton of reading. But one particular topic (Trust) did seem like it would hold some insight into what helps relationships become successful. The speaker in the talk below proposed the "Four Horsemen" which spell the end of any relationship. He has some clinical research to backup what he says, but a short list of these common traits are below:

  • criticism
  • contempt - 
  • defensiveness - rather than seeing what the other person is saying
  • stonewalling (withdrawing) - not participating in conversation 

In the talk below he talks about the importance of trust.Trust is more than doing what you say, that is simply reliability. It is an emotional state that arises from the perception (or belief) of shared values. It isn't even necessarily deterred by betrayal. We can still trust people who hurt us (while we might not trust someone who has always done what they said, because of something as simple as the way they dress). Trust fades when we start telling ourselves "I can do better. I don't need this." This leads to resentment instead of gratitude and withdrawal rather than investment.I think this lesson is true for conversations and jobs as it is for marriages. In a separate talk he lists three ideas

Obviously, the opposite of pulling away is being available, or attuned to what the other person is saying. Here is an acrostic which highlights the salient aspects of this process:

A - Awareness (pay attention)
T - Turning towards
T - Tolerance (of other viewpoints)
U - Understanding -
N - Nondefensive responses
E - Empathy

He also highlights that the key to good relationships is the ability to repair, the inevitable poor interactions. Interestingly, the ability to repair depends more on the recipient than the delivery or the person. He discovered that this had a lot to do with the quality of the friendship and the understanding of the psychological makeup of the other participant. Next we need to praise the other person rather than highlighting what they do wrong.

This leads me to believe that the best way to speak to people is to build bonds and develop friendship - in short first establish common ground. It lets me know that my oft-practiced habit of diving straight to the heart of a friend of strangers or difference's is not he best approach. I want to measure wits, but this is a useless endeavor without first sharing what I believe.

In general, I think marriage talks (which often a little light on science) might offer some of the best insights into how to improve my relationships with others. There is a much bigger market for salvaging and improving marriage than their is for those interested in "non-violent" communication. I can focus on the higher quality (and more research based talks) and hopefully learn something about human nature along the way.