Thursday, September 17, 2015

Bids and Responses and Scanning

This morning I woke up thinking of three things.  
1. The challenge of talking about thought processes in order to facilitate coordination between people who are working together.  For example, two people work on a project together, a change in timing or resources occurs, both think of responses to those changes and act on them, but fail to actually talk about or discuss the responses they have to those changes or the changes they are planning to implement, resulting in mild confusion and/or jumping to unverified conclusions. 
2. The principle of "the purpose of the task is to strengthen the relationship", ie. no matter what task you are involved in, a primary and essential element of that task is the strengthening of the relationships of those involved in it. For example, washing the dishes with your daughter:  The purpose is not so much getting the dishes perfectly clean, but rather to strengthen your relationship as you work together.
3. The practice of responding to "bids".  It goes like this.  Throughout the day, partners make requests for connection, what John Gottman calls “bids.” and which he explains as follows in an article here:
For example, say that the husband is a bird enthusiast and notices a goldfinch fly across the yard. He might say to his wife, “Look at that beautiful bird outside!” He’s not just commenting on the bird here: he’s requesting a response from his wife — a sign of interest or support — hoping they’ll connect, however momentarily, over the bird.
The wife now has a choice. She can respond by either “turning toward” or “turning away” from her husband, as Gottman puts it. Though the bird-bid might seem minor and silly, it can actually reveal a lot about the health of the relationship. The husband thought the bird was important enough to bring it up in conversation and the question is whether his wife recognizes and respects that.
People who turned toward their partners in the study responded by engaging the bidder, showing interest and support in the bid. Those who didn’t — those who turned away — would not respond or respond minimally and continue doing whatever they were doing, like watching TV or reading the paper. Sometimes they would respond with overt hostility, saying something like, “Stop interrupting me, I’m reading.”
These bidding interactions had profound effects on marital well-being. Couples who had divorced after a six-year follow up had “turn-toward bids” 33 percent of the time. Only three in ten of their bids for emotional connection were met with intimacy. The couples who were still together after six years had “turn-toward bids” 87 percent of the time. Nine times out of ten, they were meeting their partner’s emotional needs.
“There’s a habit of mind that the masters have,” Gottman explained in an interview, “which is this: they are scanning social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. ...
“It’s not just scanning environment,” chimed in Julie Gottman. “It’s scanning the partner for what the partner is doing right..." 
My decision this morning: work on those three.
And, in light of number 1, talk to L. about that decision.

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