Even the best of friends have disagreements. At times, these disagreements can cause a rift so severe that it threatens to destroy the relationship. If you are experiencing problems in one of your relationships, taking these measures can give your friendship the best chance of survival.
Keep the disagreement between the two of you. Avoid resorting to gossip and slander. If you malign your friend in your conversations with others, you can destroy all hope of restoring the friendship. People who are not affected by the dispute do not need to know about it. As Jesus instructed, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother” (Matthew 18:15, KJV).

Go directly to your friend and discuss the dispute one-on-one. As you do, make sure you are not aggressive in your words, your tone, or your body language. If your friend perceives that you are on the attack, his or her defenses will likely be raised. This will make it very difficult to address the issues and resolve the problem. On the other hand, exhibiting a genuine vulnerability can help lower defenses and create an atmosphere conducive to reconciliation.

Address your friend with gentleness and humility. Instead of making accusations, talk about how you feel personally. Describe how you have been hurt, misunderstood, or offended. Explain the reasons and motives behind what you have said or done. Talk about your perspective clearly and honestly, all the while being aware of how your words are being received. Emphasize to your friend how much you treasure your friendship. If you are able to keep a cool and respectful demeanor—even if your friend does not reciprocate—you can pave the road toward reconciliation.

Recruit a mediator. If you meet one-on-one and no progress is made, a mutual friend or a professional counselor or minister may be able to assist. The mediator, whose role is to maintain a respectful discussion and to clarify what is said, may ask questions to probe into the disagreement, but he or she should not take sides in the dispute. All parties involved should maintain confidentiality at all times.

After first suggesting an attempt to resolve a dispute one-on-one, Jesus then advised recruiting the help of others. “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established” (Matthew 18:16, KJV).

Depending on the severity of the disagreement and the personalities involved, it may take time to restore the relationship. If your friend is unresponsive to your efforts, it may be beyond repair.

If your friend shares your desire for reconciliation, however, it is possible. Though you may never reach a point of complete agreement, you can reach a point of understanding. As long as you can truly understand your friend’s perspective and your friend can understand yours, your friendship can survive and even thrive. Carry yourself with integrity and, as I discuss in Women Under Construction, your own personal and spiritual health as well as that of your relationships will be stronger.
 


Comments

Tallah
05/11/2012 2:52pm

Some good advice Tif.

Reply
juliett
05/11/2012 2:56pm

I admit I have the problem of cutting people out of my life once they hurt me. i know I need to be more forgiving but my instincts to protect myself often override that.

Reply
andrew
06/16/2012 7:04pm

Sometimes it's not worth being right, if the cost is the loss of harmony in the relationship.

Reply



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