Recently I was asked for advice on repairing a relationship. The person asking was sincere, expressing genuine pain and confusion.
I listened to a recap of the hurtful things they’d said to each other and considered the impasse they were at now.
** Disclaimer** here’s the deal with me: If you ask my opinion and I care for you, I will give it to you. You might not like my answer, but you can count on me to be honest and constructive. If I don’t know you well, or if I sense that you’re only looking for me to mirror back an answer you’ve rehearsed, well, that’s a different conversation altogether.
I could tell that being subtle was not going to work and I knew that any attempts to be Switzerland-neutral would fail. I condensed my advice to these words:
Try a little tenderness.
Try championing each other.
Try being thoughtful, of putting the other person ahead of yourself more often than not.
Try saying “thank you.” Try meaning it.
Try avoiding the words “always” and “never” (relationship killers, in my experience).
Try saving your best for each other.
Try tossing the scoreboard and celebrating that you’re on the same team.
Try a little tenderness. Just try it … and see what happens.
Everyone wants to be appreciated. Everyone wants to be heard.
Sometimes the change we want to see in others has to start with a change in US.
Try a little tenderness: take it away, Otis.