Bids for Connection

Gottman (2000) studied newlyweds and found that a key factor that determined if the couple would get divorced was in how the reacted to a bid for connection.  Bids for connection, or bids, are when someone is doing or saying something that carries an opportunity to bring more connection between the people involved.  Bids happen in most relationships, including professional relationships.  Some examples of bids are if your child says ‘wow look at that bird’ or your boss shares what she did on the weekend.  The most important part of these interactions are not the bids themselves, but instead how you respond to them.  Gottman (2000, 2011) suggests that responses fall into two categories: turning towards and turning away.

Self-disclosure is a way that you can create intimacy with others, it is a vulnerable bid for connection that gives others an opportunity to respond, and as a result grow the relationship. That said, this does need to be managed carefully in order to protect your own privacy, exposure and risk.  This is something that only you can determine based on the context, the person that you’re interacting with, and the sensitivity of the information that you’re sharing.

This is a form of matching or raising the bid, as vulnerability is a sign of trust, and if you showcase that you trust someone by offering a more vulnerable bid, they will actually trust you more – because they believe that you trust them.  It’s similar to the liking principle – we like people who like us – and we trust people who trust us… because subconsciously we think, ‘They like me and trust me, so they have good judgement.”.  Obviously, this can be a detriment with unsafe people.

 There are countless factors that can impact how we communicate in our connections with others, and each theory and technique can majorly impact how we approach our day-to-day relationships.  We explore this invaluable topic along with how to develop healthy relationships, here. 

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