爱思英语编者按:我一直在思索,要保持长久的亲密关系,克服现实强加给我们的不可避免的挑战和障碍,到底应该依靠些什么? 你被自己困住了吗?
Are You Trapped Inside Yourself ?
I’ve been thinking about what makes close relationships sustainable over long periods, through the inevitable challenges and speed bumps which reality foists upon us. We don’t have far to look to see the evidence, either anecdotal or statistical, that divorce rates continue to soar. In each case there are at least two, and probably three or more, sides to the story. An article in The Atlantic magazine reports that several detailed scientific surveys which studied samples of successful as well as failed marriages basically point to two key “make or break” traits: kindness and generosity. That sounds pretty obvious, but it bears further reflection. The branch of social science which began studying the success and failure of marriages was born in the 1970s, as a result of soaring divorce rates. Over time, a host of specialist psychologists carried out extensive studies. One such expert in the field is John Gottman, who identified a pattern in daily life interactions between spouses which he named “bids.” In this context, a bid from one party to the other is something like a request for attention, or connection, or sharing — often something small. One party notices something of interest to them and draws the other’s attention to it. The reaction of the other party, especially in the context of a pattern over time, has a profound effect on the relationship. If the pattern of response to the “bid” is routinely disinterest, disdain, or excuses like “I’m busy”, then over a period of time there is an erosion of emotional connection. Gottman claims that by observing these interactions, he can predict with 94% accuracy whether couples — straight, gay, rich, poor, with or without children — will remain together for a longer period. His research points to the attitudes both parties bring to the relationship. Kindness and generosity predispose people to be better, more responsive listeners, and more considerate in their words and actions. Selfishness, cynicism, and hostility yield very different, if not opposite results. Of the successful partners, Gottman observes “They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully.” Of the failed partnerships, the biggest culprit is contempt. Those who are preoccupied with criticizing the other party for this, that and the other thing, routinely fail to notice the positive things and eventually see bad things when they aren’t really there. While all of this makes sense, it’s clearly more challenging to achieve success in today’s pressurized, fast-paced, materialistic, distracted society than in simpler times past. Clearly, it can be done, but who is currently teaching young people how to do it? If the answer is no one, then society may have a rough road ahead. One interesting point which Gottman makes is that you can look at kindness and generosity as fixed traits — qualities you are either born with or acquire through education. Or, you can look at them like a muscle. Some people grow up with stronger muscles than others due to various factors, but everyone can work to improve their relative muscle strength. Just like going to the gym for muscle training, perhaps in future we will need facilities for kindness and generosity training. That’s partly the role of religion or spirituality in many societies. Gottman asserts that there is ample evidence to suggest that the more someone receives or sees kindness, the more they themselves will be kind. Although this is also common sense, it falls into the category of things we don’t think about as often as we should. Although Gottman’s research, and the main focus of this blog post, is on spousal relationships, there are many lessons here for us to ponder in terms of sustainable human relationships in general, including in the business world. There is no disputing the fact that the most precious things in life are friends, family, and health; so it behooves us all to be lifetime learners on how to manage these things well. In business, long-term relationships between colleagues, management and staff, customers, and investors are often a key distinguishing factor between truly great companies and ordinary ones. I can’t think of a better individual example than Warren Buffet. 我一直在思索,要保持长久的亲密关系,克服现实强加给我们的不可避免的挑战和障碍,到底应该依靠些什么? 不必大老远地去寻找例证:不管是来自你听到的传闻还是统计数据,都证明离婚率在持续攀升,每宗离婚案背后的故事,不亚于一部“罗生门”。 《大西洋月刊》有篇文章说,针对成功和失败婚姻样本的几项具体科学调查指出,两个决定成败的主要特性是:善良和宽宏。 虽然这听上去显而易见,却值得我们进一步思考。 作为离婚率激增的产物,专门研究婚姻成败的社会学分支学科出现于上世纪70年代。一段时间以来,众多专业心理学家进行了广泛的研究。该领域的一名专家约翰·戈特曼发现了一种配偶间日常互动的模式,他称之为“邀约”。 在这里,一方对另一方提出的“邀约”类似于要求对方关注、联系或分享等小事。一方注意到某些令自己感兴趣的事,就邀请另一方共同关注。而另一方的反应,特别是在一段时间内的反应模式,会对彼此的关系产生深远的影响。 如果对“邀约”的反应模式总是不感兴趣、不屑一顾、或者用“我很忙”来搪塞,一段时间过后必将对感情关系造成侵蚀。 戈特曼说,通过对这些互动的观察,他可以准确地预测出一对伴侣能不能长相厮守,无论是他们是异性恋、同性恋、有钱人、穷人、有孩子还是没孩子,预测准确率高达94%。 在研究中,戈特曼指出双方可带入彼此关系的态度。善良和宽宏能让人变成更好的、响应度更高的听众,语言行为也更加周到。而自私、讥讽、敌视则会带来即使并非背道而驰,也是大相径庭的后果。 戈特曼注意到,成功的伴侣会“有意识地建立彼此尊重和欣赏的文化。” 而导致关系破裂的罪魁祸首则是蔑视。那些忙着批评对方这个那个的人,总是注意不到积极的事情,最终眼里看到的都是坏事,不管那些是不是真的。 这些说法很有道理,但在压力大、节奏快、物欲强、诱惑多的当今社会,想要取得成功显然比过去的纯真年代要困难很多。 当然,这是可以实现的,问题是时下又会有谁来教年轻人怎么做呢?如果答案是没有人,那这个社会的前路将十分崎岖。 戈特曼有一个有趣的观点:你可以将善良和宽宏当作固定的特性,像那些你可能与生俱来或可以后天习得的品质,或者说把它们看成像肌肉一样。因为各种原因,有些人的肌肉生来就比其他人强壮,但每个人都可以通过锻炼来增强自己的肌肉。 就像去健身房锻练肌肉一样,今后我们也许会需要一些措施来训练善良和宽宏。在很多国家,宗教与灵修起到了部分类似的作用。 戈特曼声称有足够的证据表明,人接受到和看到的善意越多,就会越发向善。这也是常识,但我们却时常忽略了对它的思考。 戈特曼的研究和本文都着眼于伴侣关系上,但在广泛的人际关系、包括商业关系中,还有很多课题值得我们探索。 毋庸置疑,人生最宝贵的东西莫过于朋友、家庭和健康,所以我们大家都有义务用一生去学习如何管理好这些问题。 在商业社会,同事、上下级、客户、投资者的长期关系通常是区别优秀企业和平庸企业的关键,巴菲特就是我能想到的最佳例证。