Let it go: and build a bridge when you need to

Don't overthinkPeople around me are fighting.  Disappointing but true.  Cleary not everyone, but enough people to make me stop and reflect on what causes conflicts in our relationships and how we can build more harmonious partnerships – personal and professional.  When people get entrenched in debates and standoffs what becomes blatantly clear is the only way forward is at least one party being willing to ‘let it go!’ and build a bridge.

Of course it matters that we stand up for ourselves and set the standard of how we allow people to behave toward us.  Taking a firm stance, and pushing back with unwavering conviction, undoubtedly matters when dealing with a bully.  It can also matter when we find ourselves in dispute with our loved ones.  Having self-respect and being assertive when we need to be is an important part of building healthy and strong relationships.

Successful relationships however also take willingness from both parties to pick their battles and let some things go through to the keeper.  We all need to recognise that everyone is capable of having a bad day and people say things they really shouldn’t.  In the heat of the moment comments, accusations and threats are made that often people later come to regret.  Holding on to these moments with bitter resentment does nothing to remedy the situation or rebuild lost respect or trust.

The newest member of our team Janelle recently shared with me that among her mother’s favourite expressions is ‘build a bridge’. Janelle spoke fondly of her mothers ability to shake her out of the ‘poor me’, victim headspaces we are all capable of finding ourselves in.   There have been many times when the advice I’ve given people embroiled in conflicts is to do exactly that.  Be the bigger person, suck it up a little, be willing to let it go and fly the flag of truce.

best-way-to-argue-with-your-spouseThe tendency of so many people to judge, criticize and hold onto grievances is at the heart of most entrenched conflicts.  Getting our ‘pound of flesh’ as they say to right the wrongs inflicted by other peoples inadequacies appears to matter to far too many of us.  So too does winning an argument and having people agree that we are right, and often, that they are also wrong.  Does it really matter that we win in those moments?  Focus on the long term and depth of trust, respect and love in your relationships and petty grievances appear as just that, petty.

How perfect are any of us?  Can we really expect standards from others we cant honestly say we consistently live up to ourselves?  I often ask audiences I speak to if anyone in the room is perfect.  While a few claim to be a little closer than others, no one has ever made the bold claim to have reached the standard we so often expect of others.  If someone who typically acts with good intention, decency and a kind heart, stuffs up and hurts you – cut them some slack and put their slip up into perspective.

It’s not hard to observe the outrage culture that has built in society broadly.  The world seems to have become highly sensitive and offended.  Observe how people react on social media and news sites and quickly a picture of self righteousness, superiority and indignation will appear.  More often than not the negative comments posted online leave me wondering who people think they are and what they believe gives them the right to be so harsh, unkind and critical of someone else.  I’m guessing none of them is perfect.

Don’t be harsh and unkind when you raise your grievances.  Be honest, direct and assertive but never be rude, aggressive, stubborn or accusing.  Let it go! Hold your tongue if you have nothing constructive to say.  Belinda a friend and client shared this quote with me and I think it sums things up perfectly.

Before you speak

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6 thoughts on “Let it go: and build a bridge when you need to

  1. Hi Karen, In an age where there is a tendency to bicker with each other and often over the most trivial matters, whether it personal or professional, your article is most apt and I think for many of us in our lives today extremely relevant. Thank you for having the courage to discussing a part of ourselves that can be for some uncomfortable.

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