"Have you ever launched a conversation only to wish you could rewind it and start again? This happened to me recently. It was after dinner and my wife, Julie had gone downstairs to her office. My daughter and I both felt a little disappointed because we'd been looking forward to spending the evening with her.
So I yelled down the stairs, "Hey, Julie, stop working! It's family time!"
My harsh tone put Julie on the defensive, so she answered back in an angry tone, I can't! I've got to get this done!"
Imagine (as I did the next day) how I might have started this conversation with Julie differently. I might have said something like, "Hey, Julie, we miss you. Come upstairs as soon as you can, okay?"
Our exchange was a classic example of what I call 'harsh startup': You want to connect with somebody, so you make a bid for that connection. But because your bid begins in such a negative, blaming, or critical way, you get just the opposite of what you're after: You drive the person away. "
Instead try beginning the conversation on a softer note, revisit the situation later, or try admitting you're sorry or began wrong.
The quote in this post is from The Relationship Cure A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships by John M. Gottman, Ph.D. and Joan DeClaire
You can find my other Marriage Monday's here.