Showing Relational Courage

Showing relational courage

When it comes to relationships, we’re cowards.

When I was a boy, I shared a room with my older brother Lyndon.  Our mom really hammered the idea that going to bed angry was not an option in our family.  So, each night, we’d lay in bed and before we fell asleep, we’d say, “Forgive me?”  “Yup.”  “Forgive me?”  “Yup.”  Then we could sleep.  Actually.  We did that every night for years.

And now we’re old guys and we’re still close friends.

This is a habit we can all learn from.

We have a negative interaction with a co-worker on a Friday morning.  It’s sour, and we know things aren’t right, but we think, “I don’t want to deal with it now.  I’ll just head home and start my weekend.”

Then Monday comes, we roll into work and there’s that person again.  We know we should speak with them, but some of the bad feelings have faded over the weekend, so we leave it alone.

Why poke the bear?  Maybe it will make it worse.

So, we don’t address the issue, and that relationship is permanently weakened.  Next time we interact with that person, residual negative feelings remain on both sides.  Trust is eroded and the situation only gets worse.

If we care, and if we’re in leadership, we have to do better.  That means not going home angry.

The importance of speed

When you have a relationship problem, dealing with it quickly is absolutely essential.  If you’re angry with someone or with something they did, nip it in the bud right there.  Pull them aside and tell them how it made you feel.  Don’t wait a day, or a week.  Do it now!

If you wait, it becomes a much larger issue.  If you leave it to their official review, it hits them much much harder than it would have if you’d addressed it right on the spot.

Addressing issues quickly strengthens relationship

Imagine coming out of a meeting, not feeling good about your interaction with a colleague.

You wait an hour and walk into their office.  Here’s what you say:

“Bad person, I didn’t love how that interaction ended.

I want to talk to you about it because I value our relationship, and I care about you, and I don’t want to leave here until we’ve sorted this out.  Here’s how I felt…”

Your relationship won’t be weaker.  It will be immeasurably stronger.

So, if you share a workspace with a co-worker, before you go home, just say, “Forgive me?” and hope they say “Yup.”

Keep those relationships on a short string and you’ll build trust and earn respect from everyone around you.

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