Happy Holidays! Kinda…
8 Ways to Repair Relationships at Home and at Work
We are all forced to interact with people we’d rather not. Sometimes we need to repair relationships with people we love when toxic tailspins threaten our family. Relationships are living entities and must be nurtured. Even despite good intentions, sometimes we just have to let go and move on. But when that’s not possible or desired, these 8 empowering strategies will repair relationships. Stop the circular conversations and start fresh with a positive approach.
STOP post-drama analysis and commentary.
When friction heats negative emotions, everyone involved in the conflict is going to get burned. Do not participate in discussions that rehash who said what, what they really meant and why they are wrong. Whatever you pay attention to grows; what you neglect dies. Assigning blame in order to justify your own behavior just perpetuates the problem. Don’t dwell on the dirty details. Instead take action to create solutions and look forward to new results.
START looking at the whole person and not the perceived offense.
Everyone has unseen stress that affects their behavior, and approaching people with empathy instead of judgment enhances our perception. We all have multiple roles as parents, children, siblings, subordinates, managers, co-workers and caregivers. Set your assumptions aside and take interest in the individual. What are they proud of and what challenges do they face? Offer compassion where they might need it and admiration where they deserve it. You may realize that you’ve misjudged someone or you may simply repair relationships for a self-serving purpose. But you can’t make an informed decision until you give credit to viewpoints other than your own.
STOP recruiting support.
Campaign efforts to tell your “side” of the story only create division and should be saved for team sports and political efforts. In families and at work, there may be people with whom you don’t click, but no good comes when individuals form alliances against others on the same team. If you’ve done nothing wrong, no defense strategy is required. The more you argue your point the less valid it becomes. If someone is being a jerk or treating you unfairly, others will see that. Adding your own noise to the chaos only calls your integrity into question. It’s not your job to correct the problem if you are not the problem, or change minds that are content to stay fixed. Everyone has the right to be wrong.
START creating positive interactions.
When a relationship contains animosity, look for opportunities to share experiences that bring you together. Extend an invitation for lunch, ask for advice on an issue of their expertise, and notice the successes they have in other areas. Find something you have in common and initiate conversations that create camaraderie. Offer sincere compliments, smile when you are around them and go out of your way to support them when you can. Be willing to fake it until you make it. When you find yourself thinking negatively about a person, refocus on their positive attributes or think about something else. Accept the person for who they are, not who you think they should be. Who they are and what they think is actually none of your business.
STOP talking when you feel angry.
Nothing positive is created with negative energy. Losing control of your emotions is a sure way to not get what you want. When conversations take a turn for the worse, recognize that it needs to be tabled for another time. Communicate this politely and remove yourself from volatile situations that are headed in the wrong direction. Saying, “I need some time to put this into perspective before I respond” demonstrates respect for both points of view. It may be five minutes in the restroom and it may be a few weeks. You may return only to discover it doesn’t matter anymore. But putting space between the trigger and your response allows you to calmly assess the situation and repair relationships that are struggling.
START listening to what’s being said instead of how it’s being said.
Relationships are based on interdependence and communication is critical as we give, take, share and exchange. Being too dependent on someone leads to resentment by both parties as control issues create imbalance. Being completely independent cancels the need for the relationship. Interdependance requires discussion. Learn to accept messages without shooting the messenger. If a conversation bothers you, recognize that it’s not the person that’s the problem. It’s your reaction to that person.
STOP taking things personally.
What others say and do tells you who they are. It’s not about you. Your feelings about the actions and words of others are your own responsibility. No one is obligated to make you feel better and no one can make you feel bad unless you agree to do so. Shameful put-downs and subtle snobbery are emotional manipulators. They can and should be ignored. No one can push your buttons without access, so keep healthy boundaries and recognize your vulnerabilities so they do not work against you. When someone approaches you with a legitimate concern, listen and take corrective action if you agree. If not, assert yourself in a respectful way, agree to disagree and accept the consequences of subsequent events. We all make mistakes and need guidance from time to time. Learn to take constructive feedback without internalizing it as criticism. When someone is having a bad day and wants to take it out on you, don’t feel obligated to share in their distress. When you realize the actions of others do not reflect who you are, you’ll repair relationships and experience personal and professional success.
START envisioning the ideal dynamic and behave as though it is already a reality.
You can’t change anyone but yourself, so become the change you want to see. It takes two people to participate in conflict but only one to decline the offer. Relationships have three components: two individuals and one dynamic of exchange. This provides you with two avenues of influence. When dealing with people who are mandatory (your boss/coworker) or desired (family or friend) look for ways to alter your own thoughts, words and behavior to create positive interactions. If you don’t like what you are getting out of a relationship, change what you are putting into it.
Good luck! May the force of peace be with you as you repair relationships that matter!