In my previous post, I discussed when and how to go about ending a friendship. Many of us, I would suspect, if given the option would choose to reconcile our friendship over termination. Therefore, I felt for this week’s post, and in honor of the upcoming ‘Reconciliation Day‘ on April 2, 2017, I would write about how to mend a friendship after there has been a conflict or a prolonged dispute.
Surrounding yourself with good friends is important. An article found on WebMD written by Tom Valeo and Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS explains:
A recent study followed nearly 1,500 older people for ten years. It found that those who had a large network of friends outlived those with fewer friends by more than 20%.
Friends can provide emotional support, make us laugh, and bring out the very best in us. But friendships do come with their set of challenges and just like all other relationships will never be completely devoid of conflict. For that reason, it is important to know how to reconcile a friendship once it has been broken, especially if you want it to last.
How do we make up with our friends?
- Make the first move. After a fight has occurred one of the more difficult tasks is being the first person to wave a white flag and reach out for a peaceful reconciliation. Generally, our pride gets in the way, we say hurtful things to one another when emotions are high, and we do not believe ourselves to be at fault. However, staying silent or being stubborn to concede in any way will only cause more issues. Being the first person to reach out may take some courage, but someone has to do it if you want your friendship to survive.
- Accept Responsibility. One thing I learned while studying for my Master’s in Negotiation and Conflict Management at the University of Baltimore is just like it takes two to tango it takes two to have a conflict. Many of us naturally, point the finger at the other person and absolve ourselves of any foul play because we don’t like thinking of ourselves in a negative light. However, looking at how you contributed to a conflict can assist in reconciliation. For example, maybe you were not as supportive as your friend would have needed, or you made negative comments that were judgmental to your friend’s actions. Acknowledging your contribution, however small, demonstrates it takes two to engage in conflict.
- Use “I” statements. Apologizing will help break down your friend’s defensives and make them more willing to listen and communicate. And, it is still important that you express how your friend made you felt during the conflict. Otherwise, your feelings will go unheard, and resentment could build. If you say, ” You always blow me off to hang out with other people” you are blaming your friend which would put them on the defensive. Instead, you could say, ” I felt hurt the other day when we had plans, and you canceled, and then I saw on Facebook you were with Penny and Mary.” Expressing how their decisions and behavior made you feel will more likely encourage them to see things from your perspective and perhaps make them more willing to apologize.
- Don’t look back. Once you and your friend have hashed out your differences and forgiven one another, leave that conflict in the past. If you continue to bring up old transgressions, your friendship will not be able to strengthen and grow instead it will become immobile.
- Reflect together. Take time to examine what you both could do differently next time a conflict arises. Decide together to approach each other first before jumping to conclusions or listening to gossip. Learning how to manage conflicts better together will strengthen your relationship and ensure its longevity.
Have a Great Week,
Abigail R.C. McManus M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management
Guest Blogger/ Guest Host