WHAT can be done when good friendships turn icy due to a disagreement?
What should never occur — the parting of friends or partners over a disagreement — sadly occurs far too often. Friends and partners may always be only one crucial conversation away from a hurt that parts their social arrangement and keeps them estranged. We might hope that there’s more commitment than the commitment to go our separate ways. But then we’re shocked to find we’ve been given up on. Or, we find it’s ourselves that cannot continue such an untenable arrangement. The hurt may be just too real, too big, too insurmountable.
Then social situations get decidedly icy. We’re bound to bump into each other, at the doctor’s surgery, shopping, or at some community event. Then what?
Those awkward situations indicate something seriously amiss within the social fabric of our lives — and theirs. A vulnerability we’re individually and collectively uncomfortable with.
It’s never God’s will that good friends or partners part, but if they ever do, surely God’s will is that they get on.
Usually we could expect either of both parties to make some effort to reconcile differences, but it doesn’t always occur like that. Most often one party won’t reach out to the other if the other is perceived as holding back. And either party may not be bothered reaching out unless the pain of doing so is less than the pain of being estranged. Many situations, even most, remain unresolved.
Sometimes as peacemakers we cannot stand the impasse and we seek to remedy it, more for our own peace of mind; dissonance is the root of an anxious demeanour.
Sometimes as peacemakers we resolve that our own peace of mind is worth a compromise that the other party may never make. Times like these we might feel immediately like the compromises we make are for our own peace of mind. That’s okay.
Confronting and Resolving the Issues
Engaging with the party in some sense of small talk is the fundamental test of whether we can go further. If they appear amenable to small talk, they’re probably amenable to going further. But timing is ever crucial.
Entering a space where we discern we can go — and approach the central issues of feeling in the discord — we’re entering a space where angels cautiously tread; theirs and ours. We must get this right: focus on the feelings, not the issue that cause the fracas. Focus first on their feelings, and, if they’re comfortable there, gently introduce your own, at the right time.
If conflict is handled gently and respectfully, with love for the other person, trust may be grown through the handling of the conflict.
We must accept that they may not understand. We, also, may not understand. Wisdom always seeks to understand rather than be understood.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.