Tag Archives: Positive Communication Skills

Improving Relationships – Positive Communication

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We have seen in previous articles published on this site that one of the main symptoms of having experienced a traumatic childhood in which our relationship with our parent/parents/primary care-giver was seriously disrupted is difficulty in trusting others and problems with forming and maintaining relationships in general.

This is, of course, extremely unfortunate, especially as research suggests that it is relationships (romantic partners, friends, social life etc) that can make us truly happy, NOT lots of money, great success or acquiring expensive possessions.

For example, the psychologist Maslow (1940s) identified good relationships with others as an absolutely fundamental human need and the psychologist Argyle (1980s) stressed the great importance of supportive, trusting and warm relationships in generating within ourselves a feeling of well-being. Contemporary psychologists (eg Seligman) have also carried out research confirming these earlier findings.

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THE IMPORTANCE OF POSITIVE COMMUNICATION :

Many relationships break down due to poor communication. However, recent research suggests it is not just important to communicate well when there are problems in the relationship, but, also, when things are going positively. IN PARTICULAR, recent research has shown that HOW A PARTNER RESPONDS TO THE OTHER PARTNER’S GOOD NEWS  is of paramount importance if a relationship is to progress smoothly.

Indeed, researchers in the field of positive psychology (the scientific study of what contributes to human well-being), Gable et al, have found, in connection with this, that the way a partner responds to the other partner’s good news can be placed into one of four main categories; these are:

1) PASSIVE CONSTRUCTIVE (PC)

2) PASSIVE DESTRUCTIVE (PD)

3) ACTIVE DESTRUCTIVE (AD)

4) ACTIVE CONSTRUCTIVE (AC)

Let’s look at each of these in turn :

1) PC – this refers to a rather weak and unenthusiastic response. For example, say the partner’s just got a great new job, beating fifty other candidates – a PASSIVE CONSTRUCTIVE RESPONSE might be, ‘Oh, really; that’s something, I suppose.’

2) PD – in the above scenario a PASSIVE DESTRUCTIVE RESPONSE might be first, ignoring the news, and, then, launching into telling you their (in their view, far more important) news; for example: ‘You wouldn’t believe my day, I very nearly got a parking ticket!’

3) AD – in the above scenario, an ACTIVE DESTRUCTIVE RESPONSE might be, ‘Huh! Really? My bet’s you won’t last a week – they’ll soon realize what a complete loser you are; you can hardly tie your shoelaces!’

4) AC – in the above scenario, an ACTIVE CONSTRUCTIVE RESPONSE would be any that was extremely supportive and enthusiastic such as, ‘That’s a really great achievement, I knew they’d realize how talented you are! I’m so proud of you. Let’s go out and celebrate!’

 Of course, I’ve exaggerated some of the negative  responses for comic effect – often the negative responses will be far more subtle (but just as damaging).

RESOURCES :

HELP WITH RELATIONSHIPS – RELATE

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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