She's been your friend for as long as you can remember. You've been through ups and downs, sure, but you had never before faced a major communication problem or conflict. Now, however, you find that your friendship is in jeopardy because of a disagreement, misunderstanding, or worse.
When anger simmers, and defenses are up, it can be hard to effectively resolve an issue, and that can sometimes put an end to a valuable friendship. But before you delete her number from your cell phone, review these tips for mending broken friendships.
Think About It
Take time alone -- in a place where distractions are minimum -- to meditate about the situation. Replay the incident or conversations that have led to this difficult time. Think about your motives in the situation. Is the argument or situation really about the issue at hand, or are there underlying issues that have not been addressed?
Has this current conflict unsurfaced underlying jealousy, resentment or some other unexpressed emotion? Is there something happening in your life or hers- an irrelevant problem that has been projected onto the friendship? In the scheme of your history with this friend, does the negativity around the current problem outweigh the value of that relationship? Make sure you get a clear perspective, free of anger and tension, before coming to a decision.
Create a Plan
Know what you want to say before you next talk to your friend. Don't let the conversation dissolve into another argument, instead be clear and calm and focus on a resolution.
Prepare to Apologize
If you pinpointed things you did wrong, be prepared to apologize and take responsibility for your actions. It is common for us to shift blame away from ourselves to other people or situations. As a participant in the friendship, it is critical that you are willing to admit when you are wrong.
Take a Positive Note
When it comes time to discuss the situation with your friend, try to start the talk on a positive note. Begin by discussing some of the positive aspects of your friendship and recalling better times when the support, connection and respect were strong and beneficial. Then acknowledge that every friendship can be improved, and take turns voicing your concerns about the situation and the current state of your relationship. If things get too heated and the discussion stops being effective, suggest a timeout or postpone the conversation.
Know When to Let Go
Some friendships are just not healthy. If your relationship becomes bogged down with unresolved issues or if it is emotionally draining, then it might be time to scale back or end the friendship.
As in a marriage or business partnership, friends simply can't ignore problems or let them go undiscussed. Be proactive in managing your friendships, and have the respect and maturity to handle resolution of uncomfortable situations in a realistic and effective way.