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Burying the Hatchet – How to Reconcile a Friendship After Conflict

solution-1783776_1920In 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

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You No Longer Have a Friend in Me – When and How You Should End a Friendship

Photo credit:  woodleywonderworks

Goodbye (AttributionRequired)When we hear someone say they are, “ending a relationship” we assume this to mean the person is breaking up with their significant other.  However, “ending a relationship” could also mean severing ties with a friend.  Friendships can be challenging to maintain especially over extended periods of time.  Life provides many excuses for a friendship to end: you move far away from one another, you work more, you have more responsibilities just to name a few. But what about those friendships for which you deliberately choose to walk away? When should you end the friendship? How do you end it?

Ending a friendship is not easy, but coming to that decision requires careful consideration, especially if you have been friends for a long time.

When should you end a friendship?

While it is entirely up to you if and when you decide to sever ties with a friend, there are several junctures where the choice to walk away may be obvious.

  • You can’t trust them. Your friend has done something to betray you whether it was talking about you behind your back, telling your personal stories, hitting on or becoming romantically involved with your significant other are just some examples of how trust can be broken.
  • You feel self-conscious when around them. Your friend consistently puts you down or make snide remarks about your appearance, behavior, or any other aspect that makes you feel bad about yourself.
  • You recognize the friendship is one-sided. You’re always the one making an effort to get together or connect. Or, your friend only reaches out to you during times when they need something, but they don’t reciprocate for you. Then you are likely in a one-sided friendship.
  • You no longer have anything in common. You grow up, develop different interests, make other friends. It is a part of life.

How do you address this dilemma?

  1. Make sure it is what you want. Rekindling a friendship after you have explicitly made a point of ending it with your friend will be most difficult, therefore, it is important that you are absolutely sure it is what you want. Think about what you will lose by cutting ties with your friend and if the loss is worth it. Consider whether mutual friends will be impacted by this decision. Be mindful if you are still angry about what has occurred, making rash decisions in the heat of the moment most often never turns out well.
  2. Silently Part Ways. If you are in a situation where your friend is no longer reaching out, then it may not be necessary to have a face-to-face conversation. It that situation, perhaps it may be better for you to stop making an effort to reach out and connect. Take some time to consider whether silently parting ways will be the best option or if a face-to-face conversation is the better route to take.
  3. Don’t bring others into it. Meaning, don’t speak poorly or encourage bashing of the friend you are severing ties with in an attempt to gain allies. Involving others friends has the potential to cause damage to more than one friendship.
  4. Be truthful but not mean. If you decide to end the friendship, it may be best to do so in person so that closure can be had for you both. When speaking to them be truthful in your reasons for cutting ties. The strategy of sugarcoating and dancing around the topic will only make ending the relationship worse. It is important to be descriptive and to stick to how their behaviors have made you feel rather than pointing out their flaws. For example, you might say, ” Danielle, I need to end our friendship because for some time now I feel it has been one-sided. I feel frustrated and annoyed as I only hear from you when you need someone to talk to or when you and your boyfriend are fighting.” Rather than, ” Danielle, I’m done being your friend. You are just using me, and I am sick of it.”
  5. Set boundaries for moving forward. If you are severing the friendship make sure it is clear to both you and the person you are walking away from what that means, so there is no confusion. For example, “Danielle, moving forward I feel it is best if neither of us makes efforts to explicitly hang out. However, if we happen to run into each other we still remain cordial.”

 

Have a Good Week,

Abigail R.C. McManus

Guest Blogger/ Host

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Maintaining Friendships in Adulthood – The Ups and Downs of Growing up

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Muhammad Ali said, ” Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything“.

It took me a long time to truly understand the meaning of friendship. It wasn’t until I was in my late teens/ early twenties that I found a great group of friends that I could lean on and that had my back no matter what. A group of people that accepted me for who I was and never judged me. After a while, the lines between friends and family blurred, and they became one in the same.

When you are younger, your entire world seems to revolve around your buddies. But as we get older life happens, our responsibilities change, we grow up. Hanging out and interacting with our friends is no longer the top priority in our lives.

Recently, I have been feeling a little down about this realization. I have found myself feeling frustrated by my group of friends diminished time together. Though I continuously remind myself that this is how it goes, it doesn’t make it any less painful. I also have found myself becoming resentful because every time I attempt to make plans, I get a thousand reasons why they can’t get together and no solutions.

I recognize my feelings of frustration and resentment. I also acknowledge the vengeful part of me that wants to respond with a thousand reasons why I can’t get together next time they make a suggestion. However, that will not make things better.

So what I can I do to address this potential conflict in my life?

  1. Recognize my emotions, feelings, and shortcomings. The only way to grow and change is to be more self-aware. By looking inwards and holding myself accountable to even the negative emotions I am feeling is the first step to actually making changes.
  2. Manage expectations. I think part of my feelings stems from high expectations. I think I expected us to continue hanging out like we always had. I didn’t account for life happening. I have to remind myself that as we get older things will change, we may not be able to see each other all the time, and that is okay! It makes the time we do get to see each other that more special.
  3. Speak Up. My friends won’t know I am upset unless I speak up and voice my concerns. I have a rule that if you don’t communicate it you can’t be upset about it and carry it around. Approaching them in a non-aggressive way and use “I” statements instead of “You” statements can assist in alleviating the frustration I feel. Instead of saying, “You never answer your phone when I text you to hang out.” I could say, “I feel frustrated that every time I try to make plans to hang out I don’t get a response from you.”

Friendships are hard work and like any relationship they take time and energy to maintain, but if you know the meaning of friendship you know how important they are to your life.

Have a Good Weekend,

Abigail R.C. McManus M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Apprentice

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