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June 2, 2017 // WorkLife Wisdom: Addressing Difficult Relationships

We’d all like the relationships in our lives — at home, at work, and in the community — to be smooth and supportive. However, it’s inevitable that we will encounter interpersonal issues that seem intractably negative or otherwise problematic. Remaining stuck in your negative perception of another person can be stressful and tiring over the long term. Here are some tips on how to release toxicity, change your perceptions of a relationship, and move on together.

  • First, slow down and regroup. When you’re having an adverse encounter with someone, step back and take a series of deep breaths. Strive not to mirror any negative behavior that may come your way. Instead, will yourself to proceed with kindness and compassion. If unkind words spoken in the heat of the moment make this impossible, walk away from the situation and regroup.
  • Don’t take the behavior personally. Often when we’re entangled in a negative interaction, it seems like the other person’s words are a deliberate personal attack. Remember that this is rarely the case. Deep down, the other person’s behavior is usually not about you, but a reflection of their own struggles and/or unmet needs. Usually, everyone is trying to do the best they can despite the challenging experiences they’ve faced in life. Try to avoid judging another’s behavior. Actively decide not to let their issues gain control over your well being.
  • Don’t play defense. Avoid trying to “win” in a relationship by maintaining a consistently adversarial approach. Instead, accept the other person’s position, and let your ego and intellect sit out the potential conflict. You may find that the other person simply needs to be heard. Giving them room to express themselves without pushback may ramp down the tension.
  • Spot the learning opportunity. Often, difficult situations and people show up at particular junctures of our lives in order to teach needed lessons. Amidst a strife-infused relationship, try to identify what you might be meant to learn in the situation.
  • Look for the good. You can help repair relationships if you have a desire for change. Take some time to see through the interpersonal fog, let go of your accumulated negative thoughts about the relationship, and strive to identify the other person’s admirable qualities. Instead of closing down, listen closely, learn and acknowledge the person’s strengths, talents, and skills.
  • Forgive their behaviors. If you have a less-than-positive interpersonal history with someone, don’t cling to the conduct through which they’ve seemed irksome to you. Try showing some forgiveness instead. Although you may not be able to change the other person’s habits, you can change how you react to them. Intentionally letting go of the past and extending genuine forgiveness can lay the groundwork for an improvement in the relationship going forward.

Accessible 24/7, your FAA WorkLife Solutions Program offers many resources and services to help you and your family. Options available through the program include concierge services to help with everyday events needing your time and attention, child and elder care options, legal and financial services, in-person counseling, and much more. Call your program at 800-234-1327, TTY Users: 800-456-4006, or log on to www.MagellanHealth.com/Member to begin accessing these services today.