How to Avoid Burning Your Bridges with People
Sometimes when we're in arguments with people and are feeling strong emotions like anger and frustration, we can say and do things that go too far. When this happens, the other person can get so upset that you end up burning your bridges with them. How can we have robust discussions with people without doing permanent damage?
Burning your bridges
When we go too far with other people, they're likely to become quite hurt. When they become hurt, they're often likely to retaliate in kind, or to withdraw altogether. This can lead to the sort of permanent state of warfare that both people, before too long, wish had never happened. When things get this bad, it can be very hard to undo the damage we have caused the other.
Limit your fights
So how can we limit our fights? First of all, don't make it personal. If you've got something to say, talk about the situation and the behaviour, not about the other person's personality. This helps make it more acceptable to the other person.
Just speak for now
Try to avoid the words ‘always' and ‘never' in your arguments with other people. These words are very hard to call back. In addition, they usually aren't very accurate either. Even though you might have an emotional reaction to what happened between you, it may not always happen. When you use these words like ‘always' and ‘never', you assume the future is going to be like the past – and you don't know that yet.
Just speak for now.
It can be powerful to talk about how you were affected by what happened. However, in doing this, it's also important to take responsibility for how you feel. Even though you might have had an emotional response to the situation, you need to accept that it was your response – they didn't cause your response. This goes for the other person too – if they take action that changes the relationship, then this is their responsibility too.
Manage your feelings
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when you want to avoid burning your bridges is to manage how you feel. If you are provoked by the other person, you might need to take a moment before you respond to them. Ideally, try to process how you feel before you respond to them. This way you less likely to say something that is going to do permanent damage.
Sometimes we have legitimate reasons for being very angry and frustrated with people. This can often causes to react in ways that feel true at the time, but don't do us any favours in long-term.
Let me know what you think in the comments.