Michael Basta: The Science Of Conflict Resolution

We write often here about the importance of community and how it's an essential ingredient for resilient living. Not only do people's support and aid offer solutions our own shortcomings can't address, but their encouragement, support and partnership fulfill our lives in ways isolation cannot.

As our podcast with Pulitzer prize-winning author Sebastian Junger explored, humans are evolutionarily hard-wired to co-exist in community with others. Deriving self-worth from our relationships is simply a fundamental feature of the human species.

But relationships are messy. No two people are exactly alike and disagreements are inevitable. So when conflict arises, how can we navigate through them in ways that strengthen our relationships rather than tear them asunder?

A classic case in point: here at PeakProsperity.com, a very common form of relationship conflict our readers experience is what we refer to as "reluctant partner syndrome". One partner learns about The Three Es and develops a strongly-felt sense of urgency to prepare for coming crisis. The other partner doesn't understand this transformation and simply wants life to continue along as it always has been -- who needs all the doom and gloom anyways? And the conflicts quickly ensue...

Anyone for whom that situation resonates will enjoy hearing from this week's podcast guest, Michael Basta. Mike has worked in mental health for 30 years and is a certified Master Gottman Therapist. (Those who read Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink may remember the chapter on John Gottman, whose decades of research studying couples enables him to determine with 94% accuracy after just a few minutes of observation whether a couple will stick together or not.)

In this week's podcast, Mike pinpoints the most common threats that can derail a relationship when it confronts conflict, and he shares the top success strategies that the Gottman Institute's research has identified for rescuing, repairing and strengthening relationships through adversity.

These insights apply to nearly any relationship -- your spouse/life partner, family member, friend, co-worker or neighbor. Anyone looking to co-exist in better harmony with the people in their life should find the insights within this discussion of real value.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Michael Basta (51m:07s).

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://peakprosperity.com/michael-basta-the-science-of-conflict-resolution/

I gathered several important things from this, and among them was the insight that betrayal is a very difficult condition for a couple to work past.
To get past it, one needs for the betrayer to be willing to talk and provide complete and truthful accountings to the betrayed person.
The betrayals could be small, like hiding a purchase made in violation of an agreement on finances. Or it could be larger like an infidelity. No matter what size, the betrayal can only be gotten past if there’s an open and honest dialog.
That got me thinking about the fact that the so-called elites and rulers of our various nations are busy betraying all of us constantly.
For example, in response to Catalan, the EU bureaucracy is busy betraying all of their spoken words about democracy. The EU Commission First Vice President said this:

STRASBOURG — The Spanish government’s “proportionate use of force” in Catalonia was necessary to uphold the rule of law, the European Commission declared on Wednesday. As the European Parliament opened a debate on the Catalonia crisis, Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans sided unequivocally with the Madrid government. “None of us want to see violence in our societies,” Timmermans went on. “However it is a duty for any government to uphold the law, and this sometimes does require the proportionate use of force.” (Source)
"Proportionate use of force?" Wow. That's an amazing betrayal. I'm sure you've seen all the pictures of old ladies with scalp wounds and peaceful people being ruthlessly clubbed. But only if you have a very strong stomach should you watch the video of this woman's fingers being methodically and cruelly broken, one by one, as she lay on her back barely resisting.
Police broke my fingers one by one and touched my breasts A woman dragged out of a polling station in Barcelona by police broke down in tears today as she claimed they had broken her fingers 'one by one' and sexually assaulted her while they laughed. Marta Torrecillas was filmed being violently removed from a school in the city's upmarket Eixample area as Catalonia voted for independence yesterday. The clip, captured at Paul Claris School, showed her being manhandled as she tried to walk past officers in full body armour on a day when footage of police brutality sparked outrage around the world. Her dress was forced up around her thighs - leaving her exposed and humiliated - as she was dragged down towards the exit. She later claimed officers had touched her breasts and broken her fingers 'deliberately, one by one'.
Her crime? Thinking she had the right to peacefully cast a vote. Remember, it was the EU that voted to join NATO in bombing Libya because of nearly identical popular suppression. This is nothing short of a massive betrayal....at least for the remaining few who still think that the EU elites stand for anything moral or consistent. For those of us who already know that the emperor wears no clothes, these are merely additional confirmation of the fact that the US, US and UK no longer stand for anything beyond the extreme greed and self-interests of a monied few. The betrayals are now almost daily occurrences. They are both small and monstrous in size, and everything in between. And they are not being admitted to or talked about by the betrayers so they accumulate unhealed. Which is why you need to understand that as these things are happening at the macro level, your own tolerance for them in your life will evaporate. You may have overlooked or ignored betrayals - small or large - in your personal life that will now exert themselves to the front of your mind. These will take over and shape your destiny, so our advice is that you should get out in front of them. You will need additional tools to clear these out, manage them, and work with whatever other emotional stressors in your life so you can continue to move forward, grow, develop and have a happy and full life. Perhaps you've overlooked this part of your preparations. Maybe you think these sorts of things don't apply to you. But they do. These are the sorts of things that Becca and myself will be delving into at the upcoming Rowe seminar November 9th - 12th. If you are ready to learn how to improve and strengthen your emotional capital, then register here.

This comment is to show my encouragement for more information on strengthening Emotional Capital. I really enjoyed this podcast and plan to read the book recommended by Dr. Basta. Thank you, Chris, for commenting on how you see the methods applying to our relationships beyond intimate partners. Emotional resiliency is definitely needed to help accept our current situation in the United States and not hide from the reality. I hope the lack of comments on this podcast doesn’t deter you from posting good Emotional Capital content in the future!

I enjoyed and found this podcast helpful as well. I especially like the way Chris was able to translate the issues from that between couples to broader themes within our culture.

Yes sorry for not commenting earlier. I liked the concept of doing studies on this sort of thing. I’m happy to see that people can (and have) applied science and studies to this subject. This sort of approach fits in well with the data driven approach we like to use at the site. Turns out, we aren’t as unique as we would like to think. “If you consistently treat someone with contempt, the situation will eventually blow up.” (And in the meantime, it chops 5 years off their lifespan).
Health effects also make sense too. I know from the Sapolsky lectures what the effects of stress are on the body systems. Seeing specific types of behaviors translate directly into long term health effects ties in with that quite well. “Bad relationship = 5 years off your life.” I loved just how direct that was.
One behavior I’ve changed as a result of my understanding of stress: I don’t play computer games any longer. While some amount of stress in life is inevitable - and probably is required to keep life here on earth interesting - the long periods in front of the screen end up being a major artificial stress inducer. That can’t possibly be good for my body’s systems - and almost certainly will lead directly to a shorter lifespan overall, and poorer health in the near term.
It might be fun to have a long term study on computer games and lifespan. Which is worse for your lifespan, a daily diet of artificial stress-inducing experiences from your favorite FPS, or getting hit with criticism or contempt every day?
Here’s a cheat sheet I ran into after googling around on the Gottman method. For me, I think of it as a way to self-check - am I engaging in any of these behaviors (and/or: am I regularly in any of these emotional states)? Likewise, am I experiencing or receiving these sorts of signals?