We all enter into relationships with certain communication skills. Some will lead to healthy ways of relating that will be mutually satisfying and some not. Some will last a lifetime and some will lead to an early exit.
Most of the things we do, we do without actually knowing how we do them. We do them unconsciously. If you are reading this blog, then you are probably someone who would like to improve your communication skills. But before describing how we can improve our relationships, I would like to start by describing ways that we harm relationships, others and ourselves. This is a” how to” blog. How to destroy a potentially good relationship or at least maintain a bad one.
Rule 1: Blame the other person for the way you feel.
If you are upset, tell the other person that it is their fault that you are feeling bad. Never take responsibility and admit that you play some part in the interaction. Hold on to the bad feelings for as long as you can and see if you can make the other person feel guilty, so that you are not the only one feeling bad. See yourself as the victim.
If you are the person being blamed, feel guilty and blame them back.
Rule 2: Expect the other person to know what you need. And when it is clear that they have no idea, get enraged and start complaining and accusing them of not caring, because if they really cared they would know what you need without having to ask.
It is okay to communicate what you need, but only in bursts of anger. Then if the other person actually responds positively, do not let them off the hook. Tell them “If you loved me you would have given me what I wanted without me having to ask.”
If you happen to inadvertently communicate what you need directly and clearly and they do not respond the first time, do not tell them again. Think to yourself, “I shouldn’t have to tell them more than once.”
If you are the one being attacked, feel guilty and get defensive.
Rule 3: Attack and Exaggerate
Whenever the other person does something that you do not like, focus on “their” behavior and use words like always and never. For example, “You are always complaining” or “You never listen to me.” If they start to defend themselves, tell them, “You are always being defensive.” Avoid being specific and talking about your own feelings. Never say things like, “ I feel vulnerable” or “ I feel hurt.”
An even better alternative is to focus not on their behavior, but on their identity. For example, “You are an idiot” or “You are crazy.” A favorite is “You are being just like your mother/father.” In this way, you can eventually get to put down their whole family. If they try this on you, tell them they are “projecting”.
Rule 4: Avoid getting criticized
If you think the other person is going to criticize you for something you have done, don’t tell them. Or make up some story. Protect yourself. Doing whatever you can do to postpone criticism (and feeling guilty). In order to do this, you must remember to believe that “Avoiding criticism is much better than being honest or trustworthy.”
Rule 5: Do not validate the other person
If you are having an argument, never validate the other person’s opinion. Make them wrong or just be silent, make faces and shake your head. Remember that only one of you is right. If the other person attempts to convince you that you both have legitimate points of view, tell them they are just saying that because they do not want to admit to being wrong.
Rule 6: Keep focusing on the problem, not the solution and remember that the other person “is” the problem.
Whenever you get in an argument, never focus on solutions. Focus on the problem. Bring up as many unresolved past situations as you can, times when they did something wrong, when it was their fault. Focus on who started it. (Which is always the other person). Making the other person wrong is always more important that finding a solution. Focus on the past, not on the future. And if you do focus on the future, imagine that nothing will change.
And of course, if they are bringing up all the things you have done wrong, that’s your cue to do the same.
Rule 7: Hope that problems will magically disappear
Never seek help. Seeking help is a sign of weakness. Never go to a psychotherapist, especially a psychotherapist with an NLP background. Do not ask others for advise and if they give it, always respond by saying, “Yes, but…” Tell them you have tried “everything.”
Rule 8: Do onto others what you are afraid they will do to you.
Whenever possible do it before they get the chance to do it to you. If they do it to you first, get even.
Rule 9 Assume Negative Intentions
If the other person does something that results in you feeling bad, assume that they intentionally made you feel bad and feel justified to hurt them back.
Rule 10: Keep Score
Keep track of how many times they have done something wrong, so you have ammunition for your next encounter. Most people can remember these things and have them ready when needed. If you do not trust your memory, keep a list. This way you are prepared when they point out one of your imperfections.
Rule 11: Avoid Feedback
Sometimes the other person will notice that you are both following one of the above rules and starts suggesting ways that you both can change for the positive. Do not listen. Avoid any feedback.
Rule 12: Never ever show that you are vulnerable. It is a sign of weakness. Protect and defend yourself at all costs. The best defense is a good offense. Offend, attack and withdraw. Remember, it is win or lose. There are no win-win scenarios.
Rule 13: If you realize that you are already following any of these rules, feel guilty. Feel very guilty and blame yourself. Imagine that it will never change. Do not think of alternative ways of relating. And if you do happen to think of some healthy ways of relating, do not attempt to implement them. Your relationship may suck, but it could get worse. At least it is familiar.
If you follow these rules you are assured a bad relationship. Perhaps you know of other rules that will work just as well.
Look to my future blogs for more ways to screw up a relationship. I invite you to come up with some yourself. I might even decide to write a blog with rules for building a healthy relationship.