In Your Personal × Professional Life
By: Allison Kelly Jones, Author of Measure Twice, Cut Once, Navigating Negativity in Toxic Relationships
Sometimes we find ourselves in personal or professional relationships that sour for various reasons, but there are always two players in the strain. Some people continue to engage in “tit for tat” behaviors deploying everything from the silent treatment to guilt or passive/aggressive conduct which is never a good way to “conduct” ourselves. So how do you get past the hurt? How do you reconcile the issues while being true to yourself? How do you “move the needle” towards reconciliation in your personal relationships or resolution in your professional ones?
There are never any innocent bystanders in toxic relationships and being honest about our role in conflict is the first step and it starts with first admitting our behavior in the situation – family constellations can really help with this. If a person says or does something to upset you and you swallow your feelings, gossip instead of confronting it or try to ignore it (which causes inner turmoil), you too are playing a role in the dysfunction whether that of a martyr or the passive/aggressive person. An insult or act against you isn’t solely about the other person, so an honest internal check of how it feels in your body is in order and let it be your guide. Decide if you want to nurture the relationship and build or if the relationship has run its course and you may need to cut the relationship with kindness. In my book, “Measure Twice, Cut Once, Navigating Negativity in Toxic Relationships” I discuss the behaviors that identify toxic behaviors in ourselves and others as we decide how to proceed when engaging with difficult people and situations. If you decide to engage and nurture, it starts with forgiveness and forgiveness doesn’t require you to forget the offense, it only matters that you decide to accept that what has happened has occurred and you are letting go of resentment or vindictive thinking or behavior by separating the person from the offense. Taking accountability for your role and communicating how the other person’s behavior affected you and their responsibility for wounding you, doesn’t minimize or validate wrongdoing, it allows you to move into a space of healing.
Secondly, Look for the good in the person. We all fall from grace and we all need it in our lives at different times. Who hasn’t done something wrong to another person? Lied on someone. Took credit or too much credit for something we shouldn’t have. Said something insensitive. Did something purely out of spite. We would do well to remember that everyone needs grace and hopefully got it. When you are upset with someone, it’s hard to see past an offense and separate the person from the offense, but if you could remember times they were in a more positive light or a time when you were viewed similarly can help reign in feelings of resentment.
Next, try on some empathy by seeing the other persons point of view because there are always points to ponder from the other side. You are not always right. Keep in mind that our ego wants us want to be unkind, but we should be mindful that compassion can go a long way in being an effective advocate for resolution in any matter, personal or professional.
Afterwards, identify the real issue. Conflict doesn’t just “pop up” and it seldom comes without warning. There are always behaviors that occur that sow discord over time. The real source of clashing may not be miscommunication, rather it is usually based on perception of an issue. Separating fact from fiction from feelings can help. Ask yourself what the real issue is that’s bothering you, meaning solid concrete tangible things, e.g., “Allan yells at me at work (Fact) and it feels belittling (Feelings) and people may think I’m weak (Fiction)”. Ask questions of yourself first and then Clarify, Verify and Communicate your need.
When communicating your need use “I” language because you are only responsible for what is in your span of control. Trying to defuse a situation by pointing fingers usually blows the issue up further. “I’ don’t like when you yell at me” – “I don’t understand what you mean.” Next, confirm what you are hearing from them. “So, let me make sure I understand” I think what I hear you saying is…” Communicating what your needs are and listening for the message on the other end is important to resolve the issue or reconcile the relationship.
Finally, give it time and space if needed. If your attempts at resolution are rejected allow the time and space for the other person to discern, decipher and decide what they would like to do without pressure is important. Next, reach out occasionally and ask for smaller measurements like a 15-minute coffee break or a text as a reminder that you really want to try to resolve the issue. Be consistent until you can’t.
If all else fails and you have to break from the relationship, let the other person know in a letter or a call/message that you really wanted to move the needle to make everyone comfortable, but your efforts have gone without merit and you are now choosing to let go without resentment. With family try to offer ongoing family therapy both on your own or together, but have no expectations, simply know that with time all things heal or work out for the greater good because not all relationships are intended to endure. Some are there for a blessing or a lesson, but it’s always for your growth.
Allison Kelly Jones is a southside Chicago native who joined the military after high school and traveled the country as a federal contractor and subject matter expert in human resources, business development and federal personnel programs. She was the on-air talent for her eponymous business show on CBS AM, “The Big Talker” in Washington D.C. Allison spent a vast amount of her career mentoring and coaching many people to personal and business success and has been sought after to deliver powerful and contemporary lectures on topics that engage, empower, and inspire people to live their most genuine and happy lives. Her philosophy is, “we are here to learn who we are and what we are here to do and whatever it is, it is to be shared.”
Manifestation is truly the only way to have the life you desire most, and Allison instructs people on how to manifest their dreams, doing so as a personal and business coach and also as a professor of business in Arizona.
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