5 Steps for Mending a Broken Relationship
Communication is the stuff of which relationships are made. We send messages back and forth for the relaying of information, sharing of feelings, and working through difficulties. These messages are sent and received through words, looks, facial expressions, body language, and the tone of our voice.
When communication ceases, we consider our relationship to be “broken.” Perhaps we said or did something that offended the other party, or an event occurred that lead them to believe that our relationship was no longer desirable.
The resulting “silent treatment” breeds misunderstanding and distrust.
The problem only escalates when we make assumptions about what the other party is thinking and feeling based on their body language and the current circumstances.In order to bridge the communication gap that has occurred and mend our broken relationship, we need patience and understanding.
The following five steps give us a pattern to follow
1. Express Concern
We express concern by approaching the other person in a spirit of reconciliation. We engage in eye contact, and get in close proximity, then let them know that we notice that something is amiss in the relationship, but we aren’t sure what.
We value them as a person, and miss the interaction previously enjoyed. We are willing to do what is necessary to re-establish communication.
2. Listen without Judgment
When we let others know that we care for them, we are opening the door for them to share their deepest feelings with us. Since we don’t know what has caused the rift, we must prepare ourselves for the worst.
The silence was like a dam holding back some strong negative feelings.Our ability to listen without passing judgement enables them to tell their story. We show them that we care by listening to what they have to say without stepping in to fix the problem.
3. Reflect back to indicate Understanding
Like a mirror, we reflect back the feelings or summarize the experience that they have just shared with us. As we do so, we validate them as a person, and let them know that it is okay for them to feel this way.
They realize that we understand what they are saying and feeling, and accept them as an individual.Our validation gives them additional feelings of self-worth. We let them know that they are important to us and that what is happening in their lives is worth taking the time to know and understand. We deepen our relationship by being trustworthy.
4. Support them while they work through the Problem
Once we have listened to their story, it is our job to provide support while they come up with a plan of action. We do this be continuing to reflect back what they are saying.
Allowing them to process through the difficulty and come up with a proposed plan of action giving them a positive resolution to the experience. The worst thing we can do at this point is to tell them what they should do.
That would close the communication door very quickly and put us at odds in our relationship again. They need to figure things out on their own and come up with a solution. Our job is to simply provide strength and support.
5. Leave the door open for Future contact
Once they have come up with a plan of action, we can help them to be accountable for it by encouraging them to call and let us know what happens, or saying that we will see them in a particular day or time.
We may even want to provide some sort of incentive for them to complete the plan by offering to take them out to dinner, or doing something desirable together when they have finished the project.
Each time we open the door of communication that someone else has closed, we are being proactive in strengthening our relationship and giving others a reason to call us a friend.
The time we take to provide this type of emotional first aid will be a boon to us when we are need of someone to talk with about the issues we are having in our lives!
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