Healing a broken relationship at work
One piece of advice is to go slow and gentle at first, listening for when you might be pushing too hard and then easing up a little. But every doctor knows waiting too long is a much more common mistake than jumping in too early. Avoiding pain is a built-in characteristic of all humans. But there’s a reason going “outside our comfort zone” is such a common expression in management and business. The difference between success and failure is sometimes just the difference between those who succumb to our natural human tendencies and those who climb above them.
6. The Most Important Ingredient: Trust
Did you know that a healed broken bone is often stronger than the original bone? It’s true! The biological processes that stitch bone back together produce stronger bones than the originals. Is that possible with your broken relationship? Actually, it is.
Consider: in our life, accidents happen; miscommunications, misinterpretations. Sometimes people will misbehave around us for reasons we could not possibly fathom because we are truly not inside their heads, so bumped and bruised relationships are inevitable.
But fundamentally, people are to some degree a little bit scared and insecure. They are worried other people won’t like them or will somehow “be out to get them.” They are also very, very worried that they can’t predict what other people will do. Somehow bad things will come their way, unexpectedly.
The best human relationships eliminate these two fears. A good friend is fundamentally (a) someone you know will not purposefully do things that damage you and (b) will act in ways that you can predict. We call this “trust” in our normal, social lives.
Our relationships at work require the same thing. We need to do things to communicate to people that they can trust us – that we won’t “act out” and purposefully hurt them, even when we feel bumped or bruised. We also need to demonstrate that our actions are understandable and normal. They can be predicted - even when we might have a “right” to act out. These two things help people trust us. And a healed relationship is one where there is trust.
Healing a broken relationship at work is perhaps harder than healing a broken leg, but it can be done. In most places we don’t have the benefit of a doctor to diagnose and prescribe treatment, but we can do these six things to help heal the relationship ourselves. The bad news is that all broken relationships will require us to go outside our comfort zone and “put some weight” on the relationship, perhaps while we are still afraid - even when we know it might be painful. But in the end, a healed relationship, perhaps one so healed it is even stronger than before, is better than a broken relationship.
Erick Lauber, Ph.D., is an applied psychologist and faculty at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He speaks and consults on leadership, personal growth and development, and taking charge of our own life stories. He has won 19 educational TV/film awards and has published in numerous psychology journals and book chapters. His video log is located at http://www.lifeframing.org/. Contact: http://www.ericklauber.com/ or call 724-464-7460.
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