The One Behavior That Kills Relationships

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Obviously there are many behaviors that contribute to bad relationships at work or at home. Yet, there is one that is the most powerful relationship killer: NEGATIVITY.

New research published in the Journal of Family Psychology  (Rivers & Sandford, 2018), finds that reducing negativity is the key to getting through tough points in relationships.  

Small negative gestures in a relationship are much more powerful than positive actions, psychologists have found.

Professor Keith Sanford, who led the study, said:

“When people face stressful life events, they are especially sensitive to negative behavior in their relationships, such as when a partner seems to be argumentative, overly emotional, withdrawn or fails to do something that was expected.

In contrast, they’re less sensitive to positive behavior — such as giving each other comfort.”

Even relatively small amounts of negative behavior can add up, Professor Sanford said:

“Because people are especially sensitive to negative relationship behavior, a moderate dose may be sufficient to produce a nearly maximum effect on increasing life stress.

After negative behavior reaches a certain saturation point, it appears that stress is only minimally affected by further increases in the dose of relationship problems.”

So, it’s not enough to increase positivity. There also needs to be a decrease in negativity. The study’s authors write:

“When the goal is to increase feelings of well-being and lessen stress, it may be more important to decrease negative behavior than to increase positive actions.”

Think of the practical applications that you can derive from the research. Think how much better your relationships at work and at home can be if you. . .

  • stop yourself from using derogatory words.

  • stop complaining for everything.

  • criticize less.

  • don’t contribute to gossip.

  • control your anger and don’t lash out.

  • don’t curse people out.

  • don’t cut people out in mid-sentence.

  • don’t dismiss concerns is unimportant.

I’m sure you can keep adding to the list. . .

One way to seriously cut down on negativity is if you make it a point to “count to ten” and THINK before opening your mouth:

T Is it TRUE?




K Is it KIND?

If you can’t answer those questions with an unequivocal YES, then don’t say it! It can make the difference between a great relationships or a detrimental one.

Remember. . .

Small negative gestures in a relationship are much more powerful than positive actions. Even relatively small amounts of negative behaviors can kill a relationship. STOP negative behaviors!


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