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There are 4 behaviors that kill a partnership, team, or culture.

Understanding them has saved me millions of dollars.

Here’s what they are (and how you can avoid them):
In the 90s, a researcher named Dr. John Gottman had a theory about what killed relationships:

Certain patterns in conflict were incredibly destructive; especially facial reactions.

He needed a way to test his theory.
New research emerged, enabling Gottman to code behavior based on facial reactions.

By studying someone’s face, he could reliably know the emotion they were feeling and ultimately the patterns in conflict taking place.
Gottman set out to predict divorce in couples by spotting the most destructive behaviors.

If he saw the destructive behavior, he predicted eventual divorce.

He tracked the couples over the years, checking to see if his divorce predictions were accurate.
Gottman’s method accurately predicted divorce a stunning 91% of the time.

It was a remarkable level of accuracy.

He had found what would come to be called “the four horsemen”.
The four horsemen predict divorce, but from my 20 years of startup experience I’ve seen them kill:

• Company cultures
• Management teams
• Business Partnerships
Understanding the four horsemen has saved me millions of dollars and hours of pain.

Here’s what they are and how to protect yourself from their consequences:
Horseman 1: Criticism

There’s a fine line between criticism and a complaint.

Criticism is an attack on your colleague that dismantles part of their being.

A complaint is voicing concern about specific issues.

Here is the difference between the two:
Example:

Criticism: “I don’t believe you are that forgetful, you’re just selfish. You never think of others!”

Complaint: “I was concerned when the project was running late, and you didn’t email me. I thought we had agreed that we would do that for each other.”
Horseman 2: Contempt

Contempt is the most corrosive of the horsemen.

It assumes a position of moral superiority over the other.

Its physical manifestation is eye-rolling, but this is what it might sound like:
Example:

“You’re overworked?’ Cry me a river. I’ve been dealing with all the most important strategic priorities. I don’t have time to deal with your issues.”
Horseman 3: Defensiveness

Defensiveness is self-protection in the form of righteous indignation or innocent victimhood in an attempt to ward off a perceived attack.

It happens in response to criticism and only escalates conflict, unless a colleague backs down or apologizes.
Example:

Question: “Did you let John know the project was running late?”

Defensive response: “I was too darn busy today. As a matter of fact, you know just how busy my schedule was. Why didn’t you just do it?”
Horseman 4: Stonewalling

Stonewalling is when someone withdraws, shuts down, and stops responding.

It arises in response to contempt and is usually the result of being psychologically flooded with emotion, inhibiting conversation and conflict resolution.
Fortunately, each of the four horsemen has an antidote:

Practices that prevent corrosive behavior and facilitate productive, healthy conflict.
The Antidote to Criticism: “Soft start-up”

1. Address the problem

2. Describe your feelings using “I” statements

“I feel in the dark when I don’t know about a project’s status. I need clarity on where it stands to do my job well.”
The Antidote to Contempt: Culture of Appreciation

Remind yourself of your team’s positive qualities.

Find and express gratitude regularly to the team for the great things about them.
The Antidote to Defensiveness: Take Responsibility

Accept your colleague's perspective.

If necessary, offer an apology for any wrongdoing.
The Antidote to Stonewalling: Psychological Self-Soothing

If you are emotionally flooded, ask for a time-out.

Take 20 min to calm down before responding and then continue the discussion.
Conflict is inevitable.

Understand the Four Horsemen and their antidotes to build strong partnerships, teams, and culture.
Give these antidotes a try. They work!

If you enjoyed this thread:

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Pretty interesting stuff

Nice thread -- lots of value here