Throughout your life you will connect with people you encounter at school, work, and in your personal life. As you develop relationships with different people you will need to utilize a variety of skills to maintain positive, healthy relationships that make life more enjoyable.
In the age of blocking + ghosting, there is one skill that is not getting the attention it deserves: Repair.
What is repair?
Repair is a set of skills required to repair a relationship after a rupture, which is a challenging moment, exchange or experience that creates a disconnection in the relationship. Usually, there are a lot of emotions with this and there is not enough teaching around how to work things out with people you love.
Relationships will experience ups and downs; you will mess up and people you are in a relationship with will mess up too, because we are all human. It’s important to learn through those moments and repair.
Sometimes walking away and just cutting the person off seems like the easiest option but the loss of the relationship can be just as hurtful as the incident that occurred to fracture the relationship. “Healthy repair isn’t about accuracy, explaining, rebuttal, or even about you. It’s about maintaining the connection in the relationship.” (Schwegman, Kristi. “How to Make Repairs in Your Relationships”. Holistic Wellness Practice. September 16, 2021. www.holisticwellnesspractice.com/hwp-blog/2021/09/16/how-to-fix-a-broken-relationship)
Recognizing the need for repair
There is a lot of information out there about red flags and toxic traits. The truth is, every person has red flag behavior and toxic traits sometimes. If you notice red flags, take the time to assess what they are and how to deal with them.
Be honest with yourself about what the relationship means to you and the pros and cons of maintaining it. Most of the time, the negative behavior is temporary, the person doesn’t live there so ending the relationship is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Repairing a relationship does not mean you just say sorry and move on. It’s important to implement repair strategies that work for you and the other person you are in a relationship with. Let’s talk about some do’s and don’ts.
How to move Forward
Don’t pretend it didn’t happen – If you just totally ignore the fact that a problem exists or a behavior/incident occurred then it will just continue to show back up again and again.
Don’t continue to punish the other guy – Using the silent treatment as a punishment is just a way to continue the argument and not let it go which is the opposite of trying to repair. Other ways of “punishing’ the other person can include making comments about past mistakes or reminding them of things they said or did; none of these are helpful if you are trying to repair the relationship.
Don’t fail to apologize. “Apologizing is not about saying that the other person is right, i.e., you’re wrong and she wins the argument, but simply about acknowledging that you hurt the other’s feelings. Apologies are simply about taking responsibility for your side of the argument.” (Taibbi, Robert. ‘After an Argument: The Right Way to Make up”. Psychology Today. June 6, 2018. www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fixing-families/201806/after-argument-the-right-way-make)
Do take time to cool off – Take some time to calm down and rationally think about things before you try to talk about it. Also, give the other person time to calm down before you try to talk to them.
Do apologize – Saying sorry is just a small part of apologizing, it’s also important to talk about what happened and address the underlying problem so it doesn’t continue to happen.
Do identify any deeper issues – “Be curious: Dig down, look for the larger pattern that makes the argument merely the tip of the iceberg, then have a conversation about the bigger stuff.” (Taibbi, Robert. ‘After an Argument: The Right Way to Make up”. Psychology Today. June 6, 2018. www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fixing-families/201806/after-argument-the-right-way-make)
“No matter what strategies you choose, it is absolutely critical that you master the art of making and receiving repair attempts.” (https://www.gottman.com/about/the-gottman-method/) Learning to repair effectively is key to maintaining healthy relationships.
The repair checklist is a tool developed by Drs. John and Julie Gottman that includes phrases you can use when conversations escalate. Check out the list HERE.
A rupture in a relationship can actually be a chance to make it stronger. All relationships will have problems, it’s how we work through those problems that is most important.
Although there are situations when ending a relationship is necessary, you owe it to yourself to assess the problem and attempt to repair it if at all possible.
Repair is a skill that has to be learned, it may not come naturally. If you need help developing this relationship skill we are here to help! Contact us today.