My colleague Gordon White and I have co-created a course on How to Have Difficult Conversations that we’ve been teaching online during COVID (stay tuned for more on how we’re developing that course in a future issue!). 

One concept we teach is something from called Pinch Theory, developed in the 1970s by John Scherer and John Sherwood. The idea is that we tend to put off the little “pinches” or annoyances that can arise in relationships.  Sometimes that can be fine, if it’s something that truly does not bother you. 

But often times, there are parts inside us wanting a voice and if we don’t attend to that, the pressure can build up until the issue, which was really just a little thing a few months ago, becomes a big “crunch.”  We perhaps are more irritated than we intend or avoid the person or even leave the situation altogether. 

Pinch Theory recommends to bring things up when they are small. If you think back in your own life, to a conversation or situation that may not have worked out well.  Can you imagine what it would have been like if you had brought up the topic earlier?

One important caveat is to bring up pinches in a culture of appreciation.  John Gottman and others have cited that five appreciative comments are needed for every negative one. 

Five appreciative comments to every one negative one! The challenge is our brains tend towards the negative (negativity bias) so we need to be intentionally appreciative. 

Colleague, Norn Smookler, recently shared a short 2-minute article on how to spread around more appreciation!  It’s intended for leaders to motivate their teams, but can apply to all those around us!  Enjoy!