Don’t burn your bridges, the advice goes. There’s just one problem: over the course of a career, even the most cautious and honorable professional is bound to leave a few behind them. So what can you do to rebuild a relationship, once it’s damaged?
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1. Take responsibility.
“[R]ecognize your own culpability,” writes Dorie Clark at Harvard Business Review Blog Network. “It’s easy to demonize your colleague (He turned in the report late! She’s always leaving work early!). But you’re almost certainly contributing to the dynamic in some way, as well.”
Focus on the need to repair the relationship, not assign blame. Finger-pointing might be momentarily satisfying, but it won’t get you closer to your professional goals.
You don’t need to be best friends with everyone you work with. All you need to do is to get things to a functional place where your previous problems with this person don’t negatively impact either of you at work. Focus on that, and it will be easier to move past the occasional recurring glitch.
3. Put yourself in their shoes.
“Always remember that bad behavior comes from fear or insecurity,” writes Erik Lauber at CIO. “We’re all worried that other people won’t like us or are out to get us, and we’re all afraid that bad things will unexpectedly come our way.”
If you can empathize with your co-workers, even when they’re driving crazy, you stand a much better or repairing your relationships with them, or perhaps even avoiding major rifts to begin with.
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