When we get a cut or a scrape of some kind, we don’t simply let it get infected. We clean it, use an antiseptic, and cover it so it will stay clean. And when all else fails, we have it looked at by a professional.
Most of us have no problem giving a physical wound the attention it deserves. So why do we struggle to address the open wounds we have in our relationships? Just like a physical wound, our relational wounds can get infected if they’re not addressed.
Here are 5 ways to address relational wounds at work:
- Don’t Let it Spread: When we’re feeling wounded, it’s natural to search for others to share our pain with. It starts with little jabs to friends and coworkers about the person who wounded us. In time, your wound spreads to others. Don’t let it spread! As easy as it is to talk a little trash from time to time, fight the urge. Don’t let yourself be patient zero.
- Take a Self-Assessment: When we’re wounded, it’s easy to think that this is 100% the fault of the other person or people, but a path back to health can start with a simple self-assessment. Are you bold enough to assess how you may have contributed to your own wound? Why did it hurt you the way it did? Are you currently making your wound better or worse?
- Intentional Interaction: Create opportunities for intentional interaction. I’m talking outside of scheduled meetings and forced time together. There is a saying that time heals all wounds– I’d like to alter that a little. Intentional time heals all wounds. Healing does not come through avoidance. Over time, you may forget about what caused your wound, but the moment you’re confronted with it again you will be immediately reminded that your wound is still there. So, be intentional. Create opportunity to be in proximity with the person or people who wounded you without forcing awkward conversation (no DTR’s here). You’ll be surprised how powerful these short and casual interactions can be.
- The Crucial Conversation: Have the crucial conversation (Note that this is not my suggestion as the first step). Too often, we attempt to force these conversations before we (or they for that matter) are truly ready for it. A few questions to ask before these conversations: What do I hope to gain from this conversation? Am I ready to forgive them, or do I simply want to be heard? I’d encourage you that if you’re not ready to forgive, then you’re not ready for this step.
- Intervention: When you have a wound that does not seem to be healing, you get it looked at by a doctor – someone more knowledgeable who knows how to heal the wound. This principle applies to a workplace wound as well. Early wounds can likely be healed without intervention (if you put the effort in), but when all of your efforts have seemed to fail and the wound continues to linger and even gets worse, it’s time to call in the big guns. It’s likely that this will be someone who has some kind of authority over you and the other person or people involved.
If you want to have WorkJoy, it’s important that you heal old wounds and refuse to let new wounds get infected!
So, what wounds still need your attention?