Dear Barb—Walking Away

Dear Barb:

Hi, I have a problem with people who don’t work through their problems, they just walk away.  I have a few friends who don’t agree with the way I think about certain things, so they just stopped talking to me.  Also, I have family members who cut me out of their life because I wouldn’t do what they wanted.  And these were close family members.  How does that help anything? What is wrong with people today? Or is there something wrong with me, because I do not think this is the way to solve problems? Thanks, April.

Hi April:

We do live in a throwaway society.  I do not think there is anything wrong with you, you just want to resolve things and not lose your relationships.  The best advice I can give you is to ask yourself what you want.  Is it possible for you to continue with the relationship as it is? Are you willing to give in for the sake of peace? The reality is you cannot make someone else think your way or do what you want them to do.  Accepting the other person’s point of view is an important part of any relationship.  You do not have to agree, but separate the person’s point of view from who they are and try to avoid visiting these topics in the future.  Remember it’s usually not about you, but rather about the other person and their inner conflict.  However, there are things you can do to try to diffuse conflict before it escalates to the point of someone stopping all contact with you.  Begin by discussing the issue and make sure that you both agree on what the issue truly is.  Strive to find some common ground to work from.  If an issue is not discussed, it can never be resolved.  Prior to getting into the conversation, establish ground rules, such as no yelling, name calling, or put downs, as this type of behaviour accomplishes nothing.  Work together to establish potential solutions.  Each person should be allowed to express what they agree or disagree with in each solution as it is posed.  Find a consensus and work toward achieving that end.  You may not be able to resolve conflict with one sitting; it may take weeks or months of working together to reach a positive solution, but it will me a more viable option rather than losing a friend or family member.  Good luck April, and thanks for your letter.

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