People who rationalize minimize and justify are almost impossible to communicate with and do not know it.
They can appear self-righteous, unattractive, and totally unaware. (I have been guilty of this, you?)
For example, Suzanne and Jeff have been married for 10 years and have two small children. The relationship, like so many, has its ups and downs, but Suzanne seems to be pulling away. She's not feeling as close as she once did and withdraws emotionally from Jeff when she asks him for something and feels unheard.
A typical conversation:
Suzanne: “You don't hear me.”
Jeff: “Yes, I do, I hear you fine. I hear every word you say.” (minimize)
Suzanne: “I just don't think you do.”
Jeff: “I always listen to you. Perhaps you don't give me credit for anything.” (rationalize)
Suzanne: “This is what I'm talking about. Regardless of what I say, you explain it away and I feel unheard, empty, and foolish for even saying what I want from you.”
Jeff: “I am a good husband and provider. I don't know why you can't see the good things about me.” (justify)
Suzanne: “Forget it.” (yikes)
She pulls back further. Emotional closeness and communication are fractured.
This kind of poor communication leaves both parties exasperated and the distance grows wider.
Suzanne pulls back silently and resentfully.
Unless these resentments are resolved or things change considerably, this relationship can easily result in a breakup.
This would totally blindside Jeff because he's not aware of his contribution to the distancing of the relationship, but this exchange of words is bitter to Suzanne.
Jeff will be completely surprised if she decides to leave under these circumstances. He may even ask the question, “Why didn't you tell me?”
The fascinating truth in this conversation is that Jeff could have connected with her by understanding and appreciating her desire for him to interact and engage with her.
He could have been the hero, not the goat.
Suzanne gave up due to her frustration and is also culpable because the sender of the message is responsible to get the message across.
When rationalizing, minimizing, and justifying are permitted to damage communication, this situation can be a very common occurrence. Both made contributions, yet neither is aware of their involvement.
Get real, and get feedback, even if it means discovering something upsetting about them or yourself since the effects of this will be far-reaching.
At the end of the day, it is worthwhile if your goals include happiness and a healthy, emotionally rewarding relationship.
Watch for the blind spots.
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Blind Spots in Relationships
What I don't know I don't know about myself
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