The first three minutes of a conversation are an indicator of how that conversation will end. So, if a conversation starts gently, then it is more likely that the conversation will continue to move in a gentle and positive direction. Whereas if a conversation starts with harshness, it will likely end in the same way.
A harsh startup usually includes the word "you" followed by an absolute term like "always" or "never.” For example: "You never help around the house," or "You are always on your phone!" Another indicator that you are using a harsh startup is bringing topics up during a time that catches the other person off guard or using a threatening tone of voice.
Of course, we are all bound to start a conversation abruptly, critically, or with an unsettling tone from time to time—humans are not robots. However, couples who end up getting divorced tend to use harsh startups in their difficult conversations more often than their happier counterparts.
Ultimately, harsh startups are about bringing up difficult topics through the use of criticism—which brings us to our next less-than-healthy habit.