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A Word about Columbo

A Word about Columbo

John and Julie Gottman are two of the preeminent researchers, authors, trainers and couples therapists in the world today.  Their work spans more than 40 years.  Twice a week, they publish a brief article called Marriage Minute.  I encourage you to subscribe by going to their web site, Gottman.com.
The following is from a recent Marriage Minute:
“We encourage getting curious when it comes to understanding your partner’s experience. But it can be tricky to investigate without taking things personally, or becoming critical.
For a model investigator, look no further than Columbo.

(Please click on the image for a brief, entertaining video.)

Columbo, a popular detective show of the ’70s, featured Peter Falk muttering around in a trench coat, solving murders with curiosity, observation, and unassuming questions.
According to the show’s Wikipedia page, “[Suspects] become increasingly unsettled as his pestering behavior leads him to tease out incriminating evidence. His relentless approach often leads to self-incrimination or an outright confession by the suspect.”

Your partner is not a suspect and your conversations should not mimic an interrogation, but there’s something to be said for Columbo’s methods.

He notices and asks follow-up questions. He is kind, almost deferential, which encourages his suspects to share. He seeks to understand, and he checks to make sure he heard correctly.

Just one more thing-your partner is not a criminal!

Harold D Duncan, PhD

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