Fighting with a friend is never fun, whether it’s a silly argument with your closest work friend or a long-simmering feud with your former BFF. When an important relationship sustains any level of damage, it’s only natural to want to fix but it’s not always easy. Unless you’re an expert at navigating conflict, mending fences often takes honesty, an open mind and some time. If there’s an unresolved issue between you and a friend, here are six steps we suggest to repair what’s broken:
WAIT UNTIL EMOTIONS SUBSIDE
You and a pal just got in a heated spat over text message and now she’s not responding. It’s tempting to call her up ASAP and work it out, but you might be better off taking a pause instead. When emotions are running hot, anger and frustration can cloud our better judgement. Give each other a few hours (or maybe days or weeks, depending on the nature of the conflict) to cool down. Once emotions have subsided, it’ll be easier to talk calmly and work things out.
LET IT OUT
While you’re waiting for those emotions to die down — or to help process them — find someone to vent your frustrations too. That doesn’t mean you should do around bad-mouthing your friend to anyone who will listen, but confiding in a trusted ally can help. If you don’t have anyone to vent to, find another form of emotional release. Try exercise, art, writing, or even screaming into a pillow.
REASSESS THE FRIENDSHIP
Not every friendship is built to last. Some friendships naturally change and grow apart. These shifts can cause conflict to arise. On the other hand, some friendships are simply toxic and not worth saving. When a fight happens in a friendship on the rocks, it can be an opportunity to re-consider what friendship means to you. Does this person possess what you value in a friend? Is the relationship healthy and fulfilling for both of you? Don’t let the obligation to stay loyal to an old friend hold you back if moving on is really what’s best.
REACH OUT (WITHOUT YOUR EGO)
You’ve cooled down and considered the situation. Now it’s time to open the lines of communication. Before you do, commit to leaving your ego out of it. Don’t reach out unless you’re prepared to apologize. Focus on fixing the problem, not playing the blame game. Make plans to meet in person and try to do it sooner than later. A cooling off period is good but waiting too long can make it awkward. If you know you’re in the wrong, own it and apologize. If you think they’re guilty, forgive them and move on. In either case, keep an open mind and listen.
ACCEPT THE END
Despite your best efforts, your buddy just isn’t interested in repairing what’s broken. You’ve tried to fix it, but that only works if you’re both on board. It hurts to lose a friend this way but it’s not a failure. It’s a natural part of human relationships — sometimes they end. Give yourself permission to grieve it. It’s normal to feel heart broken — this experience isn’t all that different than a romantic break-up. You may find yourselves brought back together sometime in the future, but now is the time to just keep your heart open and welcome to friends that do come your way.