Communication Patterns in Successful Relationships
Loads of research has been done on the behaviors of successful couples and one of trend holds true: satisfied couples in happy relationships are more likely to bid for attention in a few key ways.
Read on to add these skills in your relationships.
Bids for Attention
We bid for each other's attention all the time. We do this by gesturing, making eye contact, initiating affection, making a joke, pointing out something.
For example I might turn to my sweetheart and say, "I really like your shirt."
Successful couples bid more frequently. But there is a second part of bidding that keeps them in a loop of communicating with kindness.
Receiving Bids From Your Partner
When someone bids for attention we have four real options in our response. I will give you examples for each.
"Thanks for noticing my shirt babe." This is a kind or friendly response. It invites more interaction.
"Oh." This isn't a kind or unkind response. It doesn't invite more communication or connection, but it doesn't overtly harm the relationship. However, over time it can divide a couple if it is the only response given.
"Why are you talking about my shirt?!?" This might be an angry, defensive, or judgmental response. This response doesn't invite more positive interaction and often leads to disconnection and conflict.
Often we think this is the most problematic response- but when this response is handled respectfully couples can still grow.
This is the most detrimental to the relationship. When someone doesn't respond we feel ignored and we are far less likely to continue bidding for our partner's attention. This gap in responses starts growing distance between people.
We fill in the gap with our assumptions, resentments and judgments and distance grows. But sometimes our partner has innocently missed the bid- maybe they simply didn't hear us. They don't even know how we've been hurt- and aren't able to effectively repair the missed bid.
Your relationship challenge:
Notice the bids for interaction this week and work to respond with warmth as often as possible. Notice how it shifts your relationship's energy.
Gina Senarighi has been supporting loving couples and healthy teams for nearly twenty years. As a former couples therapist turned retreat coach, workshop facilitator, and author she's transformed partnerships, leaders and communication strategy all over the world.
Her uniquely non-judgmental, inclusive approach to couples work puts even the most concerned participants at ease. She's not your average sit-and-nod supporter- she'll hold hope even when it's hard and always help you grow.