Fighting with a friend can be one of the most painful experiences you'll ever have. Sometimes, it comes out of nowhere and takes you by surprise. Other times, the tension in your relationship builds and even though you feel an argument coming, it's difficult to stop.
If you've had a falling out with a friend, take heart. Occasionally fighting with your friend is normal. Any two people in a relationship (friendship or otherwise) are going to disagree from time to time. The key is being able to argue in a healthy way.
If your argument is more than just a simple disagreement, here are some tips for working it out.
The first thing you must do when you've had a major blowout is just get some space. You may need a day or two to calm down and look at the situation from a more objective point of view. Don't leave it go much longer than that, because too much time will actually make the problem or argument grow.
The cooling off period depends on the individuals involved. If you and your friend can put feelings aside easily, you can move on to the discussion stage. If your blow out was filled with anger, however, take some time to get a new perspective so you can talk about things calmly and with the right frame of mind.
Look at the Situation From Your Friend's Perspective
After a few days, contact your friend and ask to discuss things. There is a chance that your friend may not be ready to talk, and if that is the case, here are a few things you can say:
- "I want to make sure I understand where you are coming from."
- "Your friendship is important to me."
- "I want to hear you out."
If you're still angry, it may take some effort to tell your friend that you will listen to what she has to say, but this is key for moving ahead after a falling out. You will have to remain silent as she repeats some of the same things she said before, but try and listen with an open mind. See if you can view things from your friend's perspective before making judgment.
Sometimes people get frustrated when they feel they aren't being heard, so actively listen to what is being said. Don't listen while waiting for a break in the conversation so you can talk. Focus on hearing everything that your friend is saying, both verbally and nonverbally. It's important that you meet your friend in a private location, where you will not be interrupted and where each of you will feel free to talk openly.
Tips for Emailing a Friend After an Argument
Sometimes it's easier to email your friend after an argument rather than to call. This is okay as long as you do take the time to call or talk in person later on. In order to truly patch things up, you need to hear her voice and get a sense of where she is really at. Email can be difficult to interpret since you won't have her nonverbal clues or even voice inflection to help you.
Having that said, however, email is a good option to help break the ice after an argument. When emailing, keep a few things in mind:
- Start the email by expressing your desire to work things out. Don't reiterate the point you were trying to make. The goal of the first email sent after a falling out is simply to bridge the gap, not continue your argument through email.
- Use a bit of humor. Poke fun at yourself or the situation, rather than the issue you are trying to resolve.
- End the email with a concrete suggestion to meet. Say something like, "How about we talk it out after work on Friday?" rather than "Let's discuss this sometime."
- Don't let too much time go by after the email without talking to your friend in person or on the phone. If you try to work out the situation via email only, things will probably be left unsaid that will remain a sticking point with your friendship.
After You've Listened, Then Talk
After you have had a chance to completely listen to what your friend has to say, then you can bring up your own points and feelings. However, after hearing your friend out you may not need to. Sometimes just seeing things from a different perspective puts a new spin on your argument, so you won't feel the need to "tell your side."
If, after your friend has told you her concerns, your friend still doesn't understand your side of things, that is the time to ask if she can hear you out. By this point you both should be calm enough to listen. When you discuss your concerns, do it in a manner that doesn't accuse. Talk about how you feel rather than what your friend did.
For example, an effective statement might be, "I felt as if you didn't care about me when you couldn't attend my baby shower" rather than, "Why didn't you come to my baby shower?"
If it is clear that your friend doesn't want to resolve things, your friendship may not be as strong as you thought it was. Perhaps your friend has had underlying negative thoughts about your relationship for some time now, and the recent fall out is just an excuse to walk away from you.