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How Avoid the RKO (Relationship Knock Out)


There is an invisible urge out there, destroying relationships everywhere.

It often shows up while talking about money, politics, social planning, or parenting.

It surfaces anytime you feel defensive, like your partner has just accused you of even the slightest marital misdeed.

They might question your latest purchase. Did you really need that supplemental butt cushion for the car?

They might question your politics. Are you really voting for that guy again?

Or they might question your decision to let your teenager stay out late for a rock concert. Is that really a good idea for a 15-year-old?

What happens next?

You feel defensive. And that's when it arises.

The urge to score an RKO (Relationship Knock Out).

This urge changes the game. You're no longer two partners striving for connection.

Now, you're more like two heavyweight boxers entering the ring. You're not here to hug and kiss. You're now here to knock each other out with your best rhetorical punches.

When the dust settles, you may or may not actually win. And, it doesn't really matter if you do. Because you've lost something far more important. You've lost what both of you most want: connection and love. 

So how can you interrupt this silent (or not) pursuit of the relationship knock out? Try these tools.




1. Notice the urge to land an RKO.

If you pay close attention, you'll begin to notice that this urge has a distinctive feel.

Here are some key signs that you're acting under its influence:

  • Sign 1: You notice the emotional experience of anger or maybe even rage.
  • Sign 2: Your muscles tighten and you feel upward rising heat in the belly and chest.
  • Sign 3: Most importantly, you can't stop yourself from continuing to push your side of the argument, even when it's time to let it go and move on. Put bluntly and metaphorically, your partner is down in the ring and you can't seem to stop yourself from jabbing them in the face.


2. Shift to understanding.

Here's the paradox. When you act upon the urge to land an RKO, you generally lose.

But when you risk "losing" by striving toward understanding, you win.

We know, it's quite the mind pretzel, isn't it?

So next time you feel the urge for the RKO, use it as your cue to shift to understanding.

Be willing to risk losing the debate.

Listen to your partner.

See if you can understand where they are coming from.

Help them understand where you are coming from. 

And notice how this changes everything.

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