Use social gaffes to strengthen relationships

June 15, 2014 by Joshua
in Tips

How much better would your relationships be if you saw solutions where you used to see problems?

While I don’t like problems, I’ve learned to look forward to problems as ways of improving relationships. Relationships can grow stronger as a result of social gaffes just like broken bones heal stronger than had they never broken and muscles grow from minor tears when you stress them.

What meaningful relationships have you had that didn’t involve a lot of work? How often did deep understanding come easily? You may not like fights, embarrassments, etc, but what do you expect if everyone doesn’t agree with everyone else on everything all the time?

Here’s how to make relationships stronger for the mistakes and misunderstandings that happen in them, or what works for me, at least.

First, realize misunderstandings are inevitable. You can’t stop them from happening. This view helps you accept parts of relationships you don’t like without feeling bad.

Next, realize that if the person hasn’t cut you from their life forever, they probably didn’t intend the hurt you feel. If they feel you hurt them, you probably want them to understand the same about you. Why not give them the same courtesy? This falls under my top-level life strategy,

Don’t look for blame but take responsibility to improve things to the extent you can.

This post, “A model to rid your life of guilt and blame in favor of getting things done,” describes that strategy more. The more you try to understand and work with people’s intent from their perspective, not yours, the more productive your communications will be. If you don’t feel they’re trying the same with you, I recommend working on your understanding them more than on forcing your understanding on them. If they haven’t walked away, they’re seeking understanding too.

Next, relationships don’t just happen, they result from your behavior. Change your behavior and you change the relationship. I find social skills of understanding and supporting people help relationships more than anything.

Next, look at problems in relationships not as failures, but states they go through sometimes. I find the allegory in “How not to fail” helpful here.

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