To Be Stuck…

View from an airplane window at the wings and flying over a scenic landscape of green hills and rivers

What is it to be stuck? What is it to be so stuck you cannot see through the stuck-ness? What is it to be so stuck that you would knowingly (or unknowingly) choose to jeopardize your peace? Your job? Your relationship? Your values? Getting unstuck can often feel impossible.

Reminds me of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (thank you Dr. John Gottman for your interpretation and research). The Four Horsemen are a metaphor depicting the end of times in the Old Testament. They describe conquest, war, hunger, and death. Dr. Gottman uses this metaphor to describe communication styles that can predict the end of a relationship. I have also heard these “horsemen” called “team toxins” by a coach who works exclusively with corporate teams. Horsemen, toxins… whatever they are called their presence in any form will keep you and your relationship very stuck!

Criticism: When you attack others, their personality, or their character usually with the intent to make them wrong and make yourself right.

Contempt: When you attack others with the intention to insult or psychologically hurt.

Defensiveness: When you ward off attacks directed toward you by seeing yourself as a victim.

Stonewalling: When you convey disapproval, separation, disconnection, and smugness. Often appears as withdrawal as a way to avoid conflict.

Give some thought to the presence of the horsemen in your partnership or team. What do you notice when they arrive? What form do they often take? Which horseman are you most familiar with? How does using the horsemen serve you? If you could be more skillful, what would taming these horsemen look like to you? How would your relationships benefit?


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Gary M. Groth, MS, PCC, CPCC

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