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05 Jul '13

Relational resets

Posted by T.J. Addington in conflict, reconciliation, relationships
There are times when relationships have gone sideways and have become dysfunctional enough that it takes an intentional reset to get them back on track. I have been involved helping a number of individuals recently reset critical relationships.

A reset is not pretending that the issues that caused the dysfunction or conflict is ignored. In fact, it is only when both parties are willing to acknowledge the damage and the reasons for the dysfunction that one can realistically reset the relationship. Without truly honest dialogue parties can sometimes agree to live in peace but a relational reset requires truly honest and candid conversation.

It starts with the ability of both parties to tell one another the truth about how they truly feel and why. In most cases this conversation will need to be brokered by a skilled facilitator who can draw out the issues and ensure that they all get put on the table. In that conversation it is critical that all issues that have become problematic are put on the table so there are no elephants that remain. Getting it all on the table is the first step toward a relational reset.

The second step is to talk through the issues that have been identified without defensiveness on either side. Non defensiveness invites dialogue and without dialogue, parties do not have a chance to understand one another. When we can listen to one another and seek to understand one another it allow us to ask probing questions in order to understand one another and to push into attitudes or practices that have hurt the other party or ourselves.

The third step is to discuss what kind of relationship the two parties desire. Write it down and clearly define the preferred relationship.

Step four is to ask the question, "If we are going to reset the relationship in the way we have defined it, what changes are necessary for each of us?" This may involve, communication issues, keeping short accounts, changing attitudes, not questioning motives and any number of other changes. These identified changes need to be written down as well.

This may not be a short conversation. It could take a day or longer depending on how deep the divisions are. I can tell you from personal experience that it can make a great difference for us, for relationships and for the Kingdom.