Facing Bumpy Relationships

As small business owners, we deal with complications and disappointments every day. At the same time, we have lives and relationships outside of work that can be complex and challenging.  

For example, we cannot expect everyone to like us or agree with us. This hit home with me when a friend shared a lesson she learned in theological seminary: “In any given church, at any point in time, 10% of the congregation does not like the pastor.”

Really?! Her surprising statement gave me a fresh perspective.

We each have our own ideas, baggage, experience and perceptions of the world. Even though I think I am a likeable person, there will always be people who do not like me, understand me, or want to do things my way. If we each accept that truth about ourselves, we can eliminate unnecessary angst, frustration and pain from our lives – and open up time and energy to focus on what we can and should do.

I’ve learned a few lessons – often the hard way:  

Lesson 1: We are not responsible for what someone else does. We are responsible for what we do! When we focus on our actions, rather than the actions of others, we live in a more intentional way. By taking personal responsibility, we are more likely to generate cooperation from others.

Lesson 2: We do not have to be bound by our internal thoughts, but we are defined by our choices and actions.  

Lesson 3: We gain perspective when we walk in the other person’s shoes.

Lesson 4: If there is an unresolved issue with someone else, it is best to go to that person and deal with the problem directly.

  • Communication opens doors. First, pray for discernment. Listen to the other party. Go slowly without pointing fingers and accusing. Perhaps there has been a misunderstanding.
  • Confrontation does not have to be uncomfortable or demanding. Direct conversation can be done with kindness and composure as long as the other person is willing to listen.
  • Although it may be helpful to gather strength from a few trusted advisors first, talking to outsiders can make the situation much worse. A conflict can easily escalate if others in the family, office, church or community group resolve the problem in their own minds before we meet with the individual with whom we have a problem.
  • In the end, some people have no interest in healing the relationship.

Lesson 5: There is always more to learn. If we listen, observe, and reflect, we can grow and change for the better.

Lesson 6: Although there are times when we wish others would easily agree with us, thank goodness we are not all alike! Dealing with differences in an honest and mature manner can result in better ideas, relationships and processes.

Lesson 7: Time, opportunity and/or shared circumstances may result in unexpected appreciation for each other in the future. Even if we do not get along with someone today, we may identify each other as friends in the future. I think these relationships as demonstrations of God’s sense of humor.

Think about what has helped you, or someone you know, smooth a bumpy relationship. If you are dealing with one now, pray for guidance and keep an open mind and heart.  

Until we meet again –
The Entrepreneur’s Friend

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The Entrepreneur’s Friend® is a registered trademark of Wheaton Consulting Group LLC.   Photo credits: All photos were taken by Cynthia Wheaton and owned by Wheaton Consulting Group LLC except as noted. Coffee cup art by Jim Wheaton.   Author support: Fellow authors from The Wrinklings and Light of Carolina Christian Writers Group.

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