We often hear how we can ‘resolve conflict’ in our romantic relationships; but what we hit a rough patch with our platonic friendships? Neuropsychologist Dr Hannah Korrell shares her tips for getting your friendship back on track after a blow-up.
Great friendship is associated with better mental, physiological, and even neurobiological health – so good friendships are worth their weight in salt! But what do we do if we hit a bit of salty behaviour with our besties? Here are some tips to get your friendships back on track…
1. Give ‘em the benefit of the doubt
Friendship goes both ways. Which means both parties need to extend the qualities of a friend, and both parties may sometimes mistakenly put their foot it in! So extending some leeway when your bestie accidentally steps on it can be really gracious of you – particularly if they are going through an intense time in their life. Remember, we all make mistakes. Give them the benefit of the doubt as you would hope they do in return for your occasional gaffs!
Of course, troubled times does not give someone a hall-pass to permanently treat you poorly, and they certainly never excuse someone screaming, swearing or being physically abusive to you – so make sure you don’t slip into unhealthy relationship patterns for darn right bullying behaviour!
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2. Be honest with them
If a friend repeatedly hurts you, we may be able to salvage a sinking friendship by actually communicating to that the behaviour was not ok. They may not have realised, and by telling them, they can now ensure they don’t do this behaviour again. Calmly ask them not to do the behaviour again e.g. ‘Hey Jo, please don’t cancel on me last minute again’, or ‘Hey Donald, please don’t tell me to shut up over twitter again’.
3. Be honest with yourself
Have you perhaps been a little on the slack side when it comes to your friends? Really be honest with yourself when you review your behaviour in the friendship – Have you been a trustworthy friend? Do you like spending time them or did you act more like a wet mop the last time you hung out? Do you support them? For example, keeping up with the big things in their life and supporting them during the hard times? And finally, do you respect them? I’m not saying you have to love them like Kanye loves Kanye, but actually check in to make sure you’re treating this person kindly.
4. Own it – Apologise
If we’ve realised that we’ve slipped up, that’s ok! We all make mistakes (not even robots get it right 100 per cent of the time… yes Siri we are definitely talking about you). If you have slipped up, a meaningful and genuine apology can work wonders on mending any hard feelings. How would you feel if your friend truly apologised for something they did wrong to you? Good, right? So own your mistakes with integrity, and sincerely apologise to your bud. They will likely be grateful to hear you didn’t intend to hurt them and you can then move forward with your friendship back on track!
5. Respect yourself
Having true respect for yourself means treating yourself and others with integrity and grace. For friends, this means treating them with trust, support, affection and respect. And for yourself, this means not settling for less than you deserve in return. You will never regret honouring and respecting yourself. And remember dear reader, the value we place on ourselves, is the value that others will also place on us. So if you’re a good friend, expect good friendship in return. If these problems don’t resolve even after you have communicated with you friend, it may be time to consider re-adjusting your effort levels in this friendship, or perhaps even breaking up.
Ultimately good quality friendship has been shown to improve our mental health, cardiovascular health, brain health, financial and academic success and even help us to live longer! So always cherish good friends and the quality of friendship that you offer.
Neuropsychologist and mental health advocate Hannah Korrel is the author of How to Break Up With Friends ($24.99 at Dymocks). Hear more from Hannah on Instagram.