Career Magazine

What to Do When a Relationship Gets Difficult

By Olgadegtyareva @olga_degtyareva

“How can she do this?….”
“It really hurts what he said today”
“This behavior is unacceptable, I am so angry!”

Do these expressions sound familiar? It’s the kinds of thoughts some of us have from time to time, I certainly do.

We tend to get angry and frustrated with what other people do and say. And it can negatively affect our mood and the relationship with the person, be that your partner, your parent, your child, or your colleague at work.

I used to get upset and be overtaken by the swarm of negative thoughts for days if someone said or did something that hurt me. Often I would say something hurtful to the other person in return, and after everything was “back to normal” I’d wish I had not said this.

It’s only recently that I have started approaching the relationships and interactions with other people on a more conscious level, and actually try to respond to the situation rather than react.

Below I would like to share a few thoughts that can be helpful in a difficult situation with any kind of relationship. Pick one or several of the suggestions if any of those resonate with you and try them out next time you get angry and frustrated in the communication with a relative or a colleague.

1. Listen to the other person. Listen with intend to understand not to respond.

2. If the person is emotional, reflect their feelings back to them.

3. Look at the person’s needs not their behavior.

4. Accept the other person for what they are.

5. Find positive aspects of their personality. Tell them about those.

6. Find good things they do. Tell them and thank them for this.

7. Respond back – not react.

8. Set some ground rules about your interaction with the other person.

9. Let go of blaming the other person. Let go of blaming yourself.

10. Don’t take things personally. Imagine that their anger is a reflection of the difficulties in their own life and not a description of you.

11. Imagine talking to the other person as if nothing bad ever happened between you two. Be absolutely present in the moment. Drop your story of what has happened between you and the person you are talking to.

12. Communicate with openness and kindness, show respect.

13. Pause, breathe, and remember that they are doing the best they can.

14. Feel the feeling you are having right now and ask yourself how do you want to feel instead? What do you need to do for this?

15. Accept the situation as it is, and think of your following action from the place of acceptance.

16. Be the knowing, not the reaction.

17. The relationship is given to you not to make you happy but to make you conscious (Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now)

18. Create space for the other person to express themselves.

19. If you think “the other person should be more understanding” watch this video of Byron Katie, the author of The Work.

20. When you find yourself angry at another person and then regretting and blaming yourself, forgive yourself. Now. You are doing the best you can. Look at your own needs rather than your behavior. Ask yourself: what do I need right now to feel better? Then go and take care of it


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