Relationships

Steps to resolve conflict with a friend

Author: Canadian Living

Relationships

Steps to resolve conflict with a friend

We've all been told that friendships are forever, but sadly that can be as big a fairy tale as Prince Charming and 'happily ever after'. Maintaining friendships takes hard work and just like romantic relationships, they sometimes fail.

But a broken friendship doesn't have to stay that way and it's a lot easier to find your way back to an old BFF than to try to rekindle a relationship with a lost love. If you're thinking about making amends with an ex-friend, here are a few tips.

Examine what caused the rift
Before you start trying to mend a friendship, revisit why it broke in the first place. You'll need to do some soul-searching to find out if you really want to have this person back in your life. Ask yourself these questions:

• Friends part ways for a reason. Is that reason still relevant or have your circumstances changed?

• When you replay in your mind your last communications with your friend, how do you feel? Does it still make you angry, sad, annoyed, stressed? Or are you calm enough to see things from her point of view?

• Can you accept your role in the break-up?

Are you able to say 'sorry'?
If you do want to mend this friendship then it's time to suck it up and say you're sorry – but keep in mind that a quick apology may not cut it. Put your feelings aside for a moment and try to see the situation from your friend's point of view. Think about how she feels and how your past words or actions may have affected her. Make sure your apology takes her feelings into account.

Express your mea culpa, but be brief about it.  Avoid an intense rehashing of the long road that led to the fall of your friendship; resurrecting too many details may lure you both down that path again.

Do you need to hear a 'sorry' in return?

Before you make contact, think about what you need to hear from her. If she doesn't apologize, will you be okay with that? Can you let go and move on without an apology, or would that keep you up at night?

Make contact
Decide on your communication method. Phone and e-mail are both acceptable. Tweeting and texting are too short and informal. A Facebook friend request probably isn't going to cut it. But if you're feeling old-school, a handwritten letter will go a long way.

Let your friend's personality and the circumstances of the break-up guide you in your decision. If it was an emotional train wreck, e-mail might be the best choice because it will give your friend time to think about how to respond.

Move forward
Don't expect things to go back to how they were. Time has passed; things in both your lives have changed. Remember that your mended friendship is like a newly planted seed: it requires lots of nurturing. In addition to reliving old memories, be prepared to ask lots of questions about your friend's life now. Be willing to listen to new stories and adjust to new schedules, jobs and boyfriends, not to mention the other friends in her life now.  It's time to start creating new memories together.

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Relationships

Steps to resolve conflict with a friend

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