Accusations can be positive

Mistake 1: allegations

Tips for couple communication (page 3/7)

The three most common mistakes in couple conversations

“A conflict exists when at least one need of at least one partner is violated or neglected by the behavior of the other!

Unsuccessful couple communication often ends in destructive arguments with reproaches instead of clarification or guilt instead of feelings. Accusations and blame do not lead to the clarification of conflicts and problems. Own feelings and wishes cannot be expressed directly with it. Rather, they help trigger a range of unpleasant emotions in the partner.

If one looks at such destructive couple conversations, certain communication features keep cropping up in allegations. Each trait gives a reproachful direction to the conversation and has specific unpleasant effects on the partner.

Those who quickly recognize these characteristic elements, be it for themselves or for the other, can more easily get out of an impending escalation. If I want to get closer to the person I am speaking to, I can use other means of communication.

The characteristics of allegations

You messages: "You did wrong."

Negatively intended you-messages mean to attach your own problem or unpleasant feeling to the other. Your own motives are not mentioned in the you message. The other has made a mistake or is inadequate. That is absolutely certain for the sender of the message at this moment. This immediately creates a hierarchical gradient. One rises above the other by apparently objectively ascertaining with the you-sentence what is wrong with the other. It is about being right and no longer about opinion and feeling. The other person immediately gets into a defensive position, tends to justify himself and will try to change the perceived hierarchical gradient in his favor.

Generalizations: "You never care about me."

Generalizations are often an indirect expression of anger. Even if the anger is mostly based on a specific situation, the generalization of the speaker wants to give his arguments a special impact and not leave the partner a loophole for an excuse. Generalizations usually provoke immediate contradiction and therefore tend to polarize the discussion and make it more difficult to respond to the partner.

Exaggerations: "One must ask the gracious Lord a thousand times."

Exaggerations are very similar to generalization in terms of causes and consequences. They should also give your own statement more persuasive power and stimulate your partner to protest immediately.

Negative attributes (labeling): "This infinite indolence is typical for you."

In situations in which one partner disturbs, annoys, disappoints, etc. a certain behavior of the other, he sometimes names a whole characteristic / trait of the other instead of the specific behavior. With this he armed himself with a fictitious team of experts in order to persuade the partner to examine the "undoubtedly and objectively determined" defects. Although this can indirectly express displeasure or disappointment, it is more difficult for the other person to change their behavior because they learn neither about the behavior nor the motives that led to the statement. Here, too, the other is more likely to resort to counter-reproaches or justifications than to reflect on their own actions.

Attribution of guilt: "It is your fault that ..."

Often accusations and excuses are exchanged instead of personal feelings. The partner is given greater responsibility for their own well-being than one is willing to take on. The respective “guilty party” defines the norm of what is good and bad or right and wrong. The "accused" will mostly respond with counter-accusations. This guilt ping-pong does not even lead to a concrete description of the problem and a fair problem solution is made more difficult.

More examples of allegations

Negative interpretations: "You're only doing that because ..."

Sham questions: "Do you think your behavior is right?"

Justifications: "That's not true."

Sham suggestions: "You could be a little more attentive to me."

Devaluations and insults: "You are also of no use, you bungler."

Injurious hints: "You probably remember exactly how you made this embarrassing mishap."

Threats: "If you don't finally go on vacation with me, I'll leave you!"

Irony: “You did a really great job. A masterpiece. I give you my favorite sweater to wash and it comes out with an itchy cleaning rag. You should perform in the circus with it. "

Sarcasm: "If things go on like this, we can get a divorce right away, right my darling?"

To quote allies and witnesses: "My mother always told me that nothing would come of you."


  • Joachim Engel, Franz Thurmaier: “How do you talk to me? - Errors and possibilities in couple communication. Herder spectrum, 2009