7 Habits Than Can Damage a Relationship

7 Habits Than Can Damage a Relationship

By Sonya Blandford, Psychologist

Both choice theory and reality therapy were created by Dr William Glasser, a Psychologist.  A chief tenet of choice theory is that, while people are ultimately in control of, and can thus choose, almost all of their thoughts and behaviours, they do not have control over other people’ thoughts or behaviours.   Glasser believes that you do not have control over other people’s behaviours.  All that can be done is to give or get information from them and then other people decide what their own thoughts and actions will be.

When people try to control others and shape them into their version of how things ‘should’ be, they tend to use the 7 disconnecting habits of external control that can destroy relationships.  These behaviours can cause people to withdraw or sometimes use these habits back.  If you have been on the receiving end of these habits, remember how you felt.  I imagine you did not enjoy the experience.

7 disconnecting habits,

  • Criticising
  • Blaming
  • Complaining
  • Nagging
  • Threatening
  • Punishing
  • Bribing

Glasser lists seven connecting habits that support good and healthy relationships.  When people use these behaviours, the effect is usually that people want to invest more time into the relationship.

7 connecting habits

  • Supporting
  • Encouraging
  • Listening
  • Accepting
  • Trusting
  • Respecting
  • Negotiating differences.

Glasser suggested that if you find yourself using a disconnecting habit, try to use instead a contrasting connecting habit.  There are published credit card sized ‘habit cards’.  People are encouraged to carry them around and self reflect on their own behaviour towards others.

It can be a challenge to let go of using disconnecting habits.  A therapist at Minds and Hearts may be able to help you let go of an identified disconnecting habit if you are having difficulty.   They could also help you to develop and practice connecting habits that help to build positive relationships.

Habits Cards  www.wgii.ie

Glasser, W (2013) Take Charge of Your Life:  How to Get What You Need with Choice-Theory Psychology.  Bloomington,  USA: IUniverse.

Glasser, W. (1999). Choice Theory: A new Psychology of Personal Freedom.  New York, USA: Harper Collins Publishers.