I tend to write my blogs based on themes that emerge from my coaching and consulting practice. This past month I have seen a trend of clients talking about the need to repair broken relationships. They are curious about the best way to approach someone to restore something they believe has been compromised. For those wrestling with something similar, it may be helpful to understand the distinction between repairing a relationship versus hitting the reset button.
To repair a relationship suggests some wrong needs to be made right. There needs to be a discussion about what was said or done with the objective of apologizing, forgiving, rebuilding trust, and moving on. However, when teams want to do this work together, within a full-day meeting, I start to sweat (gulp). It is hard to keep the collective conversation from creating more wrongs. Often what is brought up can be unfiltered and tends to cause additional damage and resentment. We can spend precious hours admiring all the microaggressions we have passed back and forth in our professional relationships.
When someone asks for a reset, the following need to be present.
- A willingness for everyone to personally engage from a different perspective, mindset, or belief. This requires letting go of past issues and a desire to start afresh. Do not ask or agree to a reset if you plan to bring the same thinking that you have always had up to this point.
- A declarative statement of what you want the professional relationship to look like moving forward. It involves fidelity to creating new ways of talking to each other and asking for support, information, or commitment.
- Good humor! Nothing can break tension better than people acknowledging they have not been ‘adulting’ very well. “Can I have a mulligan?” or, “My head is better screwed on now.” can be magical ways to cut through the clutter and start fresh.
What professional relationships need a reset?