I have noticed in the media this week, Valentines day has been focused on love in all its forms. One that piqued my interest was Galentine, celebrating the friendship of women. On ABC TV news breakfast, the girls on the couch, who do not have a significant other, decided to be each other’s Galentine.
We all know that friendship, like any other special relationship goes through ups and downs. The longer we are in any relationship, the more likely that buzz that helped us fall in “love or like” will fade. Then we find ourselves in a relationship that needs to be worked on like anything else that is worth keeping or holding on to.
Someone wise once shared with me the idea of the Relationship Bank Account it’s a handy tool to apply to all our relationships. Like any bank account, we need to put deposits into our bank account – e.g. a compliment, doing a favour or offering to help. All little things but they will all add up to be “spent” when we do make a withdrawal from our bank account. A withdrawal can be forgetting our friend’s birthday (I have done that), saying the wrong thing or not keeping a promise.
Withdrawals are usually a big deal, so we need a lot of little deposits to make sure our relationship bank account does not ever become zero when something goes wrong. Think about your favourite café or restaurant, the one you go to all the time, they may know your name, maybe what you like. What would you do if one day you got a bad coffee or a meal? You may give them the benefit of the doubt and probably go back again. If you had a good relationship with them, you may even give them some feedback. What would you do if this was new café that someone had recommended you to? Some of you would complain but research tells us that most of you would say nothing and never return. Even worse, you would probably tell a few people about it.
What can you do if the withdrawals are drawing down on your friendship?
Balance our focus
Sometimes, if things are hard we tend to focus on the negatives and forget everything we like about the person. Last week, I challenged someone who was complaining about a friend to do something simple. Each day, write down 3 things that you like or love about the person. Maybe it is something they have done (no matter how small!) This may be hard if the situation is strained but there must be a few things. If there isn’t, think harder.
Give it some space
May be time to consider giving each other some space for a while. It does not need to be a declared thing but maybe just a few weeks of “I have something on” space.
Have the awkward conversation
This is the one that is the trickiest and needs a whole blog on. In my consulting, I run a whole day training on this. You know you need to have an awkward conversation if you are talking to other people about your problems with your relationship.
Before you do anything remember to BAT.
First: Breathe – this helps you calm down.
Second: Admit - that you need to have the conversation and check your emotions. If you are really angry or upset then you probably need to give yourself some time to calm down.
Third: Think – It could be, what do I need to say and how do I need to say it?
For example, if a friend often asks you to babysit her children at the last minute and you feel obliged to help her out. You need to focus on the behaviour and not use judgement – e.g." you are so disorganised".
So, you could approach it:
“This is really awkward for me to raise. I value our friendship so I want to let you know that when you ring at the last minute and ask me to babysit the kids.
Then explain the impact or effect on you, “I often need to change my plans to accommodate you OR I feel like you take me for granted.”
This avoids making judgements like “ You always just expect me to be waiting for you” which can be argued against and may stop the person from listening to you. You also will notice you don’t need to solve your friends’ problem.
Be prepared to get different reactions such as surprise, denial and anger. That is perfectly normal, especially if you have been enabling the behaviour by saying nothing and taking her kids begrudgingly each time, she calls.
Realise friendships can grow and change
This is hard to admit but sometimes our friendships are based too much on what is good for the other person but not on what is the best thing for us. So, because of an awkward conversation is that it may change a relationship for better or worse. Going back to our relationship bank account, the more deposits we have made will leave money in our account even with the large withdrawal of an awkward conversation.
Finally, how do we help our children with their relationships?
Not only as parents are we navigating our own friendship groups but we are there providing support for our children, in particular, our girls trying to understand the mysteries and benefits of building strong relationships.
The points above are applicable to our children. We can use the points above, especially helping our girls balance their focus when they are having issues with friends. Also equipping them with the skills to make sure they recognise that any friendship needs to make sure everyone in the relationship is getting what they need and is happy.
There is also a lot to be said from making sure they realise the importance of having different friendship groups. We can encourage them to make friends with lots of different groups rather than just having one or two exclusive friends.
I would love to hear your thoughts or ways you assist you deal with a tricky friendships or how you help your child navigate friendship. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave us a comment on Facebook and Instagram.
How we can help
All our programs give children the opportunity to make new friends and give the skills to practice self love and care. Our Teen Hub Loftus program enables girls aged 11- 13 to join our weekly group to make new friends and hang out with old. Your daughter can join our Monday afternoon class any week.
For more information or to enquire about joining visit the website and call me on 0404 649 204.