5 Types Of Conversations That Can Kill A Relationship

types of conversations that can kill a relationship

The best relationships feel safe. Though many people claim the comfort of being with someone in silence as a true sign of a strong relationship, how you converse when you finally speak can make or break the connection. Speaking and showing you care are inseparable.

When you are angry or annoyed by others, your emotions may come out sideways in your conversations. When you don’t know how to talk about how you feel, you use your words and gestures to wound them. The sting could cause permanent harm to your relationship.

Conversational Weapons

Ursula K. Le Guin said, “Words are events; they do things, change things.”1 In moments of pain or anger, words can wound others and damage relationships.

We have all used the weapons described below in our lives, as children and adults. These events not only affected the connection at the moment; you might still experience the impact today. As you read the list, try to remember what triggered these behaviors in you. Be honest with yourself. Then seek to catch your reactions in the future to strengthen instead of scar your relationships.

1. Punish someone with insults if they hurt, irritate, or disappoint you.

2. Use the excuse of being authentic and speaking your truth to criticize someone.

3. Shut down or angrily respond when they get defensive.

4. Roll your eyes, look away, smirk, laugh when they are serious, and interrupt before they complete an idea.

5. Rehearse in your mind what you are going to say while they speak, then beat them to death by explaining why you are right and they are wrong.

Related: 11 Conversation Killers To Avoid At All Costs

Be careful of your spontaneous expressions that serve as counterattacks meant to demean the person’s behavior. You can share if something they did offended you so they know the impact of their words or actions. Then give them space to digest what you share. No one likes to feel bad or wrong; they may need some time to think before they accept your disclosure.

When you use a respectful tone and accept what they say as their truth right now, people feel psychologically safe with you. They know that no matter what they say, they won’t feel shamed, hurt, or embarrassed by your reactions. They know you won’t retaliate against them in the future for what they say today. Psychological safety maintains trust and harmony, strengthening your connections over time.

Here Are Five Guidelines For Maintaining Healthy Relationships When You Have Conversations:

1. Remember how much you care for someone before letting words leave your lips. Seek to understand the intention of their behavior before you judge it as bad or insensitive.

2. Make sure your words are congruent with your body language. Your facial expressions and posture have more impact than the careful words you choose.

3. After you speak, listen with an open mind and heart. When you close yourself off from others, you disconnect from them.

4. When your body tightens up, pause and breathe. Relax before you share how their words or actions made you feel.

5. Temper your honesty with tact. If you need to share how their behavior felt hurtful, tell your truth with care. Be kind, not cruel.

Receive the explanations of their intentions. You can always ask them to accept the impact they had on you regardless of intent in an effort to improve the remaining or next conversation.

good conversation
5 Types Of Conversations That Can Kill A Relationship

Manage Your Energy

Your ability to be thoughtful and manage your reactions is hurt by sleep deprivation, poor nutrition, noise pollution, excessive conflict, lack of money, and a shortage of friends. If you don’t take care of yourself, you will have a difficult time being careful with others.

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Marcia Reynolds Psy.D.

Dr. Reynolds is a pioneer in the coaching profession. She was one of the first members and the 5th global president of the International Coach Federation. She is also a past president of the Association for Coach Training Organizations. She is the Training Director for the Healthcare Coaching Institute in North Carolina and is also on faculty for coaching schools in Russia, China, the Philippines, and India. She is recognized by the Global Gurus as the #4 coach in the world. She has trained and coached leaders in 43 countries and has presented at the Harvard Kennedy School, Cornell University, Smith College, Almaty Management University in Kazakhstan, and The National Research University in Moscow. She became fascinated with emotional intelligence after reading Daniel Goleman’s book in 1996 and designed a training program that integrates emotional choice with leadership presence, communications effectiveness, and life satisfaction. She has since taught her programs for many agencies of the National Institutes of Health, multi-national corporations around the world, and for coaching schools in Europe and Asia.View Author posts