How Emotional Agility Improves Relationships

Kyle: Choice points sound a lot like what Dr. Gottman refers to as sliding door moments. Can you give us an example?

Susan: For example, your partner comes home from work and you have a choice point. Do you stand up and put your arms around the person or do you stay sitting? Do you make a move that is towards your value or away from your value? This is really important because I am suggesting that values can become very strong defining features in how we show up for our partner. If you have these values front of mind, then you can ask yourself, what are the habits I have that are not congruent with my values?

When you realize that, you can start actively making tiny tweaks, which are small moves in the direction of your values, but ultimately we know make a very big difference in people’s relationships over time. In Emotional Agility I talk about how this relates to Dr. Gottman’s research on bids for connection.

Kyle: I really love that idea, because when our values align with our actions, we are intentionally choosing to behave in ways which allow us to create the connection we want.

Susan: Exactly. It’s important to notice our emotions, thoughts, and stories with compassion and approach them with curiosity without letting those thoughts or emotions drive you. Instead, make choices in which your values are congruent with your actions and do this every day. The whole thing behind tiny tweaks is often people say “what difference does it make?,” but what we know is that these small positive interactions compound, so over time your values create a very meaningful relationship.

Read How Being Nuanced with Your Emotions Enhances Your Well-Being

Editor’s Note: This is part one of a two part interview with Susan David, Ph.D., author of Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life.


Get a personalized emotional agility report here. To learn more about how emotional agility can improve your relationships, order your copy of Susan’s book on Amazon here.


This article was originally published on The Gottman Relationship Article.

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