We don’t always see eye-to-eye with the people we work with, and sometimes minor disagreements can lead to bigger problems. If communication breaks down, a conversation can quickly become a heated argument. Repairing relationships once the dust has settled is a daunting task. Here are some ways to get your relationships back on track.
Your friends. It’s typical to get into disagreements with friends and quickly make up. But if the conflict goes deeper, feelings may be bruised and it can be hard for you to regain each other’s trust. If she says unkind words and you insult her back, you will both need time to cool off. It’s important to give each other space and not rush into reconciliation. When the time is right, meet at a neutral location like a café and listen to her side of the story before offering yours. Find out where your communication broke down and be sure not to leave any lingering issues unresolved.
Your co-workers. Has a seemingly harmless group project turned into a source of contention? Identify what you are arguing over and pinpoint where your opinions diverge. You have to be willing to compromise if it’s a group project. If you can’t resolve the conflict on your own, ask a manager you trust for some feedback. Just be careful not to let professional disagreements turn personal – if your relationships in the office begin to sour, you may lose your enthusiasm for your job.
Your family. Fighting with any family member – a parent, sibling, or a child – is painful because of how deeply you care for one another. It’s important to honor your feelings and not just cast them aside out of guilt. For example, tell the person how her words or actions hurt you, but also remind her how important she is to you. You two share a common bond of love and support, but also need to respect each other as unique individuals.
Your partner. If you’re in this for the long haul, it’s important to take responsibility for your words, no matter who started the argument. You both will have to own up to the mistakes you made in the heat of the moment in order to heal. Discover what the fight was really about. You may have been nagging your partner for spending too much time with his friends, but why? Do you distrust his fidelity? Do you feel insecure about the relationship? Discover what actions set you off and, when clear, share your feelings from an “I” perspective: “When you do this, I feel (fill in the blank).”
When you’re ready to put an end to an argument, apologies are often needed on both sides. Here’s how to offer one, and how to spot an insincere attempt at making amends.
Offering a Genuine Apology:
- Take responsibility for your actions.
- Don’t attempt to justify yourself.
- Make a commitment to change. Explain how you will be more aware so it doesn’t happen again.
- If the other person isn’t ready to receive your apology, let the air clear for a few more days before offering it again.
Spotting a Fake Apology:
- The person offering the apology hesitates and uses frequent fillers, including “um,” “well,” “like,” and “you know.”
- They cite your wrongs, not theirs. For example, “I am sorry that you misunderstood me.”
- They fail to acknowledge your feelings and how their actions or words may have affected you.