Managing relationships is difficult at the best of times.
As we face the global COVID-19 pandemic, we are reminded of how small the world really is and how similar we are. At the same time, we cannot help but see just how unique we are as individuals.
One thing that I am reminded of during this time of physical isolation, is our deep, unwavering need for human connection. We need each other. We need to know that we are not alone. That somebody cares. At the same time, we are very different individuals with different needs and these stressful circumstances cause tension in our relationships- both at work and at home.
Here are some tips to maintaining strong, positive relationships.
1. Be clear with your message.
Have you ever received a text message and assumed, based on the “tone,” that the other person was angry with you? Only to later learn that they had been running into a meeting and their brief response had simply been the result of a busy day?
When we receive a message, our minds bring with it a myriad of our own thoughts, feelings and experiences. Our perception of any given message contains both the objective verbiage of the message and our own subjective interpretation. Remember to ask for clarification when we may be “reading into” the messages of others. As well, we need to be very clear with the intention of our own communications.
2. Don’t make assumptions.
Do not assume others know what you need. Many of us believe that the people that care about us know what we need without being told. Unfortunately, this belief sets us up for a lifetime of disappointment. We are each individuals with unique life experiences, temperaments, and emotions. It is unrealistic to believe that anyone can see inside you and anticipate what you need.
Do yourself a favour: take a moment to reflect on what you need and then ask for it! If you need it, you need to ask for it.
3. Give yourself time to breathe.
Whether you are involved in a heated disagreement or simply feeling overwhelmed by the circumstances that surround you, it’s time to step away and center yourself.
Disagreements and conflict are a normal part of a healthy and strong relationship. Feeling overwhelmed and fear are normal reactions to what is happening in the world. But when our emotions overtake us, we begin to use a part of our brain that doesn’t allow us to think or act rationally. So stop, and take a deep breath to allow your brain to return to a place of rational thought. When we are calm, we can then engage in a more productive disagreement or simply hold a more balanced view of our current circumstances.
We are imperfect human beings and we will make mistakes in the way we communicate and the way we relate to others. If you see that you have made a mistake—even if the other person also made mistakes –apologize! An apology does not mean you take sole responsibility for a disagreement, but that you see the other person and that you respect them.
These are just a few tools you can use. I am here for support and would love to offer additional strategies to help you manage disagreements and conflict during these difficult times.
We cannot control what is happening in the world today, but we can control our own actions and behaviours. I am here to help you do just that.
Keep safe and healthy.