Rather than running away from problems, it’s best to work towards resolving them. That way a relationship would get stronger and more durable

There is an old song that often reminds me about relationship. The story of the song is as follows:

A couple in deep strife, decided to part. Each wrote to a marital agency requesting them for a new relationship. A few weeks later they heard from their respective agencies asking them to come at an appointed time to meet a prospective partner. At the designated hour, the couple independently reached their agencies. Strangely both of them had come to the same agency. When asked to meet each other and speak about their likes both of them realised that in their request for a new partner they had mentioned, separately though, that each of them liked to play in the rain and enjoy Pinacoladas. This, throughout their marriage, they had not known of one another.

Relationships are always worth restoring. Peace-making is not avoiding conflict, nor is peace-making appeasement. Running away from a problem, pretending it does not exist and being afraid to talk about it is actually cowardice.

The following tips can help restore relationships:

* Talk to yourself before talking to the other person. Ask yourself how you feel.

* Recognise that conflict is rooted in unmet needs. When you expect someone to meet your need and it is not done you set yourself up for disappointment and bitterness.

* Always take the initiative. It does not matter whether you are the offender or the offended. Make the first move. Don’t wait for the other person; go to him or her first.

* Restoring broken relationships is important. Don’t procrastinate; make excuses or promises such as ‘I will get around to it someday.’ Delay only deepens resentment and makes matters worse. Acting quickly also reduces damage to us.

* Sympathise with their feelings. Use your heart more than your ears. Listen first to understand than to be understood. Focus on feelings not fact. Begin with sympathy not solutions.

* Confess your part of the conflict. Admit your mistakes. Confession is a powerful tool for reconciliation. When you begin by humbly admitting your mistakes, it defuses the other person’s anger and disarms them.

* Attack the problem not the person. You cannot fix a problem if you are consumed with fixing the blame. How you say it is as important as what you say. If you say something offensively it will be received defensively.

* Emphasise reconciliation, not resolution. It is not necessary that everyone agree with everything. Reconciliation focuses on relationship while resolution focuses on the problem. When we focus on reconciliation, the problem loses significance and often becomes irrelevant.

* We can establish a relationship even if we are unable to resolve our differences.

(The writer is an organisational and behavioural consultant. He can be contacted at ttsrinath@vsnl.net)

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