By Geetu Bharwaney, author of 'Emotional Resilience: Know what it takes to be Agile, Adaptable and Perform at Your Best'
Falling out with a friend is usually the result of when our needs are not met, or when someone does something unexpected that makes us angry. We have all been there, and these fallouts can create some of the most emotionally challenging situations we face in life, but there some specific steps that we can take in order to deal with such disagreements in a much more positive and effective way.
In this article we focus on 4 tips for avoiding common friendship fallouts. Rather than getting caught in the heat of the moment, these approaches are based on being able to neutralise emotion when the most important thing is finding a solution. The fact is that problems may never get resolved if we stay stuck in a feeling of anger or resentment, so the following tips can improve your ability to manage emotion and move forward.
1) Focus on Seeing, Knowing and Being
This first tip will help you to step back and keep an objective perspective on what is going on. It requires you to think through the situation and consider:
- What do you SEE in this situation? Think about what your vision would be like as a fly on the wall, seeing what is happening very clearly from all perspectives, not just your own.
- What do you KNOW in this situation? Try to separate out what is REAL knowledge from what is IMAGINED or made up knowledge of the situation. One way of thinking about Knowing is to focus on the idea that the situation is already an intelligent situation, with some kind of bigger meaning or purpose to what is happening right now.
- How do you need to BE in this situation? How are you going to avoid being part of the problem through your own unhelpful behaviours, keeping in mind the wisdom from the previous two questions?
Having taking some time to reflect on these questions you will be much better equipped to neutralise the emotion in the situation and adopt a more practical, rational approach.
2) Take Self-Responsibility
There is a famous old phrase, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." This is especially true if you can look at the situation and the suffering it caused and work out what you had responsibility for, then learn from it, no matter it was that that went wrong.
So the key question here is: "What is the part of this situation that I am 100% responsible for?" It can be easy to get lost in the situation, pointing fingers, blaming others or beating yourself up about things that were outside your control. However, it is important for each person to admit, accept and focus on what they are really responsible for, as it will allow everyone to improve their ability to resolve the issue.
3) Everyone has their own Right Perspective
In the heat of an argument it can be very easy to get frustrated with others, and as a result, put all your energy into the fight. How can they really think like that?!
But wait. You have to keep in mind that every individual has their own "right perspective" based on their own unique combination of experiences, knowledge and ideas. It can be easy to forget, but other people in the argument are probably equally struggling to understand your view.
Accepting that everyone has their own right perspective is a very useful strategy, and one that can be very empowering when trying to resolve conflict. It involves shifting perspective towards acceptance of the situation rather than the fight, so try to talk to understand and accept how and why everyone sees things.
4) A little Flexibility goes a long way
Every one of us can be guilty of being too stubborn sometimes, but trying to take a more flexible approach can make a big difference.
Rather than get hung up on how you feel about the situation, take a step back and think about how other people in your life whose opinion you really value would see it. It could be a parent, a colleague, a friend or even a celebrity you respect, but ask yourself, "Is this how they would see it?" or "What would they advise me to do in this situation?" This might generate any number of different or even crazy alternative approaches, but by thinking in this way you are opening your mind up to other perspectives.
With your new, more flexible mindset, you can start to consider what it is about your friend's different view or approach that you struggle with - is it their values, their beliefs or their experiences? Consider what this really means for your interaction, and when you hear something that you disagree with, ask yourself these three questions:
- Does it really matter? (If yes, proceed to 2. If no, let it pass).
- Is it to do with values or just a random happening?
- What shall I do about it? What do I need to say or do to move forward while staying true to my values?
In conclusion, human nature means that inevitably each and every one of us is going to come into conflict with friends and family at some point. We're all different - we have different opinions, experiences, ideas and values - but then, that is what makes life interesting.
What is important is how we equip ourselves to deal with these conflicts when they arise. In most cases, it is emotion that clouds our judgement, causes frustration and prevents us seeing other people's perspective. By taking the time to understand our own emotional responses to situations and how it also affects others, each and every one of us has the ability to neutralise emotion when it really matters, whether that is at work, with family or with friends.
Geetu Bharwaney is Managing Director of Ei World, a trusted advisor to leaders and managers on how to be effective in work and life.
FREE e-chapter and video/audio intro to her new book, Emotional Resilience: Know what it takes to be agile, adaptable and perform at your best, is available at http://www.eiworld.org/Store
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