Often, the most difficult part of significant relationships is when an offense makes its way into our flow of living. A good example of the rare times an irritant can bring something good, is when a grain of sand that seeps into an oyster gets layered with nacre, the substance that transforms the sand to a pearl.
Working to resolve “irritants” in our relationships can allow the climate where we live or work to be more pleasant. Overlooked, it can fester and begin to have a negative impact mentally, emotionally and physically. These situations are often based on assumptions made by one party about the other. These assumptions can be “birthed” by idle chitchat from a third party and can make the normal routine very tense. Taking steps to overcome the grievance can restore peace to the relationship. Avoiding the effort to resolve them, can widen the gap.
Confront in a kind and loving way when necessary. It is normal to have a certain hesitancy around addressing an issue. Fear of things beyond our control is common. The fact that fear is present doesn’t mean the confrontation should be avoided. Calmly communicate what you are sensing and inquire as to what their thoughts are concerning the issue. Regardless of the response you receive, it will be more liberating to get it out in the open than to continue to fret about it. While it may not immediately bring the desired response, being proactive will pave the way for restoration.
Taking ownership of personal contribution in the breakdown can be empowering. Not every difficult issue we face is our fault. Some issues may have been created in the mind of another. Sorting out our feelings and determining what we are responsible for in the situation can create the environment for a more productive meeting. We can then be empowered to confront the other person in a manner that will be less hostile and diffuse the temptation to become defensive.
Journaling allows you to organize your thoughts and feelings and work through emotions before addressing the issue. This may help avoid derailing the process by anger. Recounting the issue to a third party runs the risk of greater offense and more damage to the relationship. The smaller the ripple, the easier to get a handle on it. If you must talk with someone, consider an objective, spiritually mature person, such as a mentor.
A right motive is one that seeks to clear the air and restore peace. It will require actively listening to the other person as they share their thoughts and feelings. This is especially true if you disagree with what they are saying. Listening is demonstrating respect; it does not mean agreement. A good rule here is to consider how you would desire to be listened to in a situation that may be difficult for you to express.
I often find that when a person is truly acknowledged, listened to and heard, they feel safe and are willing to share and work through the process. It often takes the breakdown to bring the breakthrough. We may be working to achieve a higher level of relating than we could ever have imagined by allowing ourselves to grow in the process. Gaining a deeper understanding, may create a stronger bond in the relationship.
Consider, too, that the comeback will be better than the set back. And the restored peace that you experience can be priceless!