Getting to Zero Book Summary - Getting to Zero Book explained in key points
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Getting to Zero summary

Jayson Gaddis

How to Work Through Conflict in Your High-Stakes Relationships

4.6 (291 ratings)
28 mins
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    Getting to Zero
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    Conflict is usually the result of either too much closeness or too much distance.

    Have you ever really thought about how conflict arises? The specific reasons vary, but generally, conflict occurs when you feel threatened. That can mean a physical or emotional threat, or one that relates to your identity, property, safety, health, morals, or the people you love. 

    When it comes to relationships, threatened feelings usually arise as a result of one of two things: too much closeness or too much distance. Both can make you feel threatened – get too close to someone and you start worrying about being attacked; grow too distant, and you’ll worry about abandonment.

    Too much closeness can occur when someone moves toward you in a confrontational way or raises his voice. Behaviors like these feel like acts of aggression, and that sense is only heightened if the other person is actually upset – his body language can make him seem physically bigger than he actually is. The automatic response is for you to get defensive.

    Too much distance, on the other hand, can make you feel that the other person doesn’t care about you or is even about to leave you. This happens when someone gives you the silent treatment, abruptly leaves, slams doors, or cuts you off during a discussion. And in today’s hyperconnected, instant-messaging world, a person not returning your call or answering your messages can create too much distance, too. But possibly the worst culprit is simply silence, which leaves you in a state of not knowing what’s going on.

    It’s normal to feel triggered by either closeness or distance. But staying triggered can have long-term effects on both your physical and mental health. Fortunately, you can do something about it.

    Start by identifying your coping mechanisms, or disconnectors. There are basically four of these.

    The first is posturing, which involves attacking or blaming the other person to protect yourself from harm. The second is collapsing, the opposite of posturing. Here, you implode or shut down and feel that the situation is all your fault. With seeking, the third coping mechanism, you feel insecure and seek out the other person to try to reinitiate connection; this, however, can end up driving that person farther away. And the fourth coping mechanism, avoiding, is when you move away and create distance between you.

    Identifying how you disconnect allows you not only to recognize when you’re doing so and take action accordingly, but also to forewarn people close to you so they can help you during conflict.

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    What is Getting to Zero about?

    Getting to Zero (2021) is a guide to dealing with conflict in intimate, high-stakes relationships – those with your family, good friends, and partners. It describes a process for “getting to zero” by achieving resolution and closure after conflict.

    Who should read Getting to Zero?

    • Conflict avoiders
    • Those who project childhood experiences onto others
    • All who want to resolve conflict in their interpersonal relationships

    About the Author

    Jayson Gaddis is an expert on interpersonal conflict and its resolution. Founder of the Relationship School, he’s also an author and speaker, and hosts the Smart Couple Podcast.

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