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The humanKIND Blog

3 Effective Ways to Take Relationships from Sour to Sweet

We can agree that having good working relationships is ideal. But working with other humans can be HARD. With a little intention and positivity, it gets a whole lot easier. The first step is the most important – addressing it. I’ll share three options you have, which can even build on each other, in today’s post.


Don't Suffer in Silence

I can hear you now…”I’ve tried to make it work with them, but they’re impossible!” I’ve been there. There are certain people out there that you may never fully click with. There are many strategies that can make all the difference.

In my experience, to make lasting, impactful change we can’t assume that the other person is feeling the same frustration. Like it or not, addressing it is critical to moving forward. Don’t worry, depending on your style and theirs, you’ve got options!


Option 1: Undercover Agent

You can be like Gandhi and “be the change you wish to see in the world.”

This is the road most taken. I believe it’s because from the time we’re young we’re told “don’t sweat the small stuff,” “let it go,” and often “don’t be so sensitive.” These messages diminish our feelings and create fear to allow ourselves to acknowledge our discomfort or pain, let alone speak up directly.

What I love about this approach is that you’re willing to take ownership of your own behavior and the impact it has on others. If done correctly, you’ll raise your awareness of the positive/negative impact you’re creating. (And self-awareness is HUGE!)

This strategy doesn’t take into account how the other person may be thinking and feeling, so you have limited data. You’ve only considered a portion of the equation – your own. This approach doesn’t allow for you to share your truth. However, starting here is a great first step, gain confidence and move to the more direct options below.

If you choose this option, be careful not to turn into a martyr. You can’t say, “but THEY’RE not trying!” if you haven’t given them a chance.


Option 2: Phone-A-Friend

Ask someone else to help support the relationship between the other person and yourself.

I’ve seen this be successful when someone who knows and has a good relationship with both parties is asked for counsel. Please step with caution here, as you don’t want to put the person in an awkward position or cause them to take sides.

  • A key question to ask is, “I’m working to improve my working relationship with Anna and I’m hoping you can give me feedback on what I could be doing better or differently when partnering with her.”

This approach takes ownership of your impact while allowing the person to gently guide you on the best approach for the other person. It’s a great transition step before trying the next option.


Option 3: Buy a Billboard

In this option, you go directly to the person, discuss all the feels, and hope they want to make things better.

This strategy for communication is more upfront. It’s also more intimidating to many. Why?

  • We want to be accepted.

  • We don't want to be known as a complainer.

  • We should be able to solve it ourselves, damnit.

In my experience, we learn about ourselves and others when we actually talk about what is happening. This is not a suggestion to “confront,” “go after” or “set them straight.” When we approach someone with kindness and with a positive outcome in mind, we increase the likelihood of a successful change.

Introverts, Extroverts and Omnivertswe may approach it in our own way, but we’re all capable of speaking up. Perhaps we need to practice with someone we trust, write down our main points, or rehearse in front of a mirror.

Also, it’s key to consider the other person’s preferences. Don’t put pressure on yourself for this conversation to be perfect. It won’t be. I’m a crier and I’ve had quite a few of these discussions that either started or ended with me in tears – some happy, some sad. I accept that’s who I am and part of how I work through these feelings. Just be honest and respectful, and you’ll do well.


Authenticity is a Practice

Whether I’ve gone it alone, addressed it head on, or sought counsel, I have learned that unless there is some acknowledgement of how things have progressed, it’s likely to revert back to the way it was. So, sustainability is the next step, so my next post will discuss strategies on how to continue the progress you’ve made.

I welcome your comments and constructive feedback, so comment here or email me directly at I’d especially love to hear how this works for you, so tag me on social media as #werestorehumanity.

Peace and Progress,

Anna Oakes


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