Defensiveness: You view yourself as the victim, in an attempt to ward off a perceived attack. This can take form when one makes counter-complaints, makes excuses (“I didn’t do __”), making “yes, but” statements, repeating oneself (without listening), and whining.
Stonewalling: A form of communication in which one has totally withdrawn from a conversation. This can take the form of being silent, leaving the room, changing topics, and ultimately any behavior that conveys one has stopped responding to communication. This is seen as a total breakdown in communication, though it is usually used to avoid conflict, de-escalate a situation, or stay neutral; stonewalling behavior sends the message of separation, coldness, and disconnect.
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These four destructive interactions are viewed on a spectrum from least to most damaging, where criticism leads to contempt; contempt leads to defensiveness; and defensiveness leads to stonewalling. Studies show that couples who cycle through this spectrum are more likely to break up.
For more info, check out my website where I explain "fair fighting". I discuss the most effective and constructive ways to communicate your needs.
Remember, for all behaviors we do not like, there are always remedies for positive change.
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