Wednesday, March 11, 2009

When Distance is Best

There are times during conflicts when lines of communication break down. Even if one or both parties want to make things work, there may be issues they cannot compromise on. We see this in negotiations between countries, religious, ethnic and political groups in the news all the time. In our own relationships with family, significant others, and friends, we run the risk of "hitting a wall" when it comes to compromise. In my own experiences, I have learned to accept when countless negotiations just don’t work anymore, distance becomes the best option.

There is one member of my family whom I will always love and be there for, but I am giving him plenty of space because of this issue. He doesn’t seem to understand the difference between well-intentioned advice and insults, which causes constant friction. I have tried to make peace without compromising myself or the truth.

Up until this point, my diplomatic efforts have been spurned or ignored completely. He is currently not speaking to me, but it isn’t the first time he's given me or other family members the silent treatment. Months and even a few years have gone by with complete avoidance. Instead of pressing him to make peace, I have adopted what seems to the best course of action, which is staying out of his way. Even in sad, upsetting situations like these, I find myself learning to be even more patient and realistic than I already am.

When I came to the realization that a long-term friendship could be over for good, I began remembering how communications between us started to fall apart. I knew things were bad when I kept defending my actions and intentions to someone I thought understood me. Even after I thought we came to a resolution, the same misunderstandings came back to the surface, with the same tensions and resentments accompanying them. Temporary or permanent distance may be the only options we have, but I know that whatever happens, it will be for the best.

How do you deal with breakdowns in communication?

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