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A Word about Negativity

A Word about Negativity

As many of you are aware, “Zero Negativity” is one of the core principles of Safe Conversations®.  Simply put, we encourage all individuals and couples to completely do away with all negative behaviors and communications in their lives.  Especially those that have anything to do with our most important relationships.

But, what is negativity?

First, it’s everything we think it is and much more.  Some negativity is blatant and in your face.  But some is subtler and less direct.

  • Clearly, any statement or behavior that is blaming, accusing, criticizing, condemning and contemptuous is negative.
  • But so are name-calling, sarcasm, snide comments and condescending looks.
  • Negativity may also appear in the form of “distancing” and disregarding behaviors–treating the other person as if they are irrelevant, unimportant, “less than” or in the way.
  • Fundamentally, negativity is in the eye of the receiver–even if my intent (as the sender of the message) is not to be negative, if my partner perceives that it is, it is!  I may not understand it, but if I want to connect (and stay connected) with this person, I must accept and respect this fact.

What does negativity do to a relationship?

  • As described by Harville Hendrix, negativity is an attempt to “negate” the other person.  It is tantamount to emotional annihilation!  Very, very serious stuff indeed.
  • Moreover, any time we feel threatened by anything or anyone (real or imagined), our brains instantly go into survival mode, what we commonly call “fight, flight or freeze.”  The reaction is as old as humankind. It is intended to help us survive.  We don’t think about it, but we all do it, in a split second.  In a relationship, this reaction creates distance and disconnection, either momentary or long-standing.

This is what some call our “Negativity Bias.”



(Please click on the image above to see a 2-minute video explaining this phenomenon.)

What do you want?

So, the question is, do I want to be in relationships that are “safe,” meaning ones in which my partner and I are connected, where we can talk about anything and everything without fear and where we can experience passion and joy?

If so, I will do everything possible to eliminate negativity from my life–even negativity that is not directed at him or her!  I will do everything possible to be a person who is always safe to be around and with whom it is always safe to communicate.

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