Listen, Learn, and Love - 3 Keys to Harmony

Dr. Joan's Advice

Date: 07/15/2013

By: Dr. Joan

Subject: Unresolved Disputes Rupture Relationships

Dear Frustrated Frances:

So you have a mysterious misunderstanding with a woman you considered to be a good friend. It is mysterious because you don’t know what it is about. She walked away from you, literally turning on her heel, without a word of explanation. You are frustrated because you have no clue as to what you said or did that upset your friend.

Your situation is a classic example of a ONE-SIDED misunderstanding. It happens often because we are all human. One person in a relationship decides that the other person has misspoken or committed a misdeed and then the horse is out of the barn, racing down the track. By that I mean, that the person who has taken offense runs away (as your friend did), or hides, or refuses to speak, or refuses to answer the phone when you call, etc. I understand why you are frustrated. You are unable to reach your friend to try to talk it out. In fact, she is hiding from you, like a small child.

Years ago, my father’s cousin, who is long gone now, took offense because my mother declined to wear a hand-made hat designed by this particular cousin. Sound silly? It was, but my mother was never able to explain in person to the cousin why she chose a different hat to wear at my wedding. The one way my mother was able to offer an explanation was in the form of a letter. Even the letter did not resolve the misunderstanding, but at least my mom tried to clear the air and she felt better for taking action.

So here is my simple advice for you, dear Frances:

WHEN SOMETHING IS UNRESOLVED, TAKE ACTION: If the only action you can take is to write a letter or a note, then, by all means, do so. Why? Because you will give yourself peace of mind that you have tried to resolve the issue. And that is important. Remember, you only have control over yourself. You have no control over the other person. Therefore, your job is to take the best steps you can to clear up the misunderstanding and give yourself some peace, knowing you have tried. If your friend will not answer your calls, or open her door when you knock, then write the letter. Ask what it is that upset her, offer to talk with her, offer your apologies, even though you have no knowledge of having offended her. You will feel the comfort of trying to build harmony. Please let me know of your progress.

Dr. Joan’s Harmony Key: Sour notes don’t belong in a beautiful song. Do your best to replace them with harmonious notes.

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