Tiff Tamer

This week's trek is inspired by Drs. John and Julie Gottman's research at The Gottman Institute on the mathematics and psychology of relationship building.

Do you ever feel underwhelmed by your partner, co-worker, or family member?

The Gottmans' research has shown that not feeling so jazzed about someone you spend a lot of time with is totally normal. However, when you are feeling a lot of conflict brewing between you and a close friend, partner, or family member it can be helpful to take a time out to promote admiration for one another.

Introducing Your Tiff Tamer Exercise

What It Is
A 15-minute exercise for you and your partner to tame a cycle of tiffs by creating more room for appreciation in your relationship.

Why We Love It 
Every now and then we find ourselves in constant conflict with another person - a loved one, a co-worker, or a partner. When this happens it is easy to just write that person off as negative or incapable of doing anything right. This exercise provides an opportunity to take a step back and reconnect with the things you truly appreciate about each other so you can see more sides of that person beyond what's present during conflicts. 

How It Works
1. Take 5 minutes with a significant other, co-worker, or family member to review this adjective list from the Gottman Institute. As you review, circle three adjectives that best describe your exercise partner. Have your him/her do the same for you.

2. Now, for each item you circled think of a specific moment where your exercise partner displayed that specific characteristic. Give yourself a minute to recall what they did and said and how that made you feel.

3. Take 5 more minutes and share what you wrote down with your exercise partner. Give them an opportunity to do the same. 

Source: The Gottman Institute

Want to dig deeper into this topic?
  • For tips on how to make both professional and personal relationships work, read this from HBR.
  • To learn about the 5 biggest working relationship mistakes people make, read this from FastCo.
  • To learn about the characteristics of people who build really strong relationships, read this from Inc.
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Ev Boyle, Executive Director, LA-tech.org
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Shankar Desai