According to the Gottmans' research, the way a conversation starts is likely the way that it will end. So if we start with criticism or contempt, we are likely to end with defensiveness or stonewalling. But if we start gently, we are more likely to have a productive conversation. Some keys to a gentle start-up include: expressing appreciation; making statements that start with "I", such as "I'm upset" or "I'm angry"; describing the facts of the situation; and clearly describing what we need. Check out this video from Julie Gottman to hear more.