Three Practices to Repair Relational Ruptures, by Todd W. Hall, PhD.

Continuing series on leadership, relationships, and spirituality from leading attachment theory expert.

In all my relationships—but especially with the people I lead—my job is to go first in doing everything I can to repair the rupture.

by Todd W. Hall, PhD • Rosemead School of Psychology

betrayalRecently, I was reminded that relationships are dynamic—always changing, unfolding, developing.

Along with the changes, ruptures and conflict in relationships are inevitable. They happen all the time. It’s part of what it means to be human.

It also means you can’t bank on the trust that was built in the past. Trust is built and re-built one interaction at a time.

I re-learned that the hard way recently. I was responsible to be there to support someone I mentor. I unintentionally blew Frank* off. Sure, it was unintentional, but it still had a negative impact. After it happened, Frank called me on it. I was a little bit surprised—another sign of how out of tune I was with the negative impact I had caused.

My first internal reaction was defensiveness. I wished like crazy that I could just rely on the past status of the relationship being positive and intact. But it doesn’t work that way. I wasn’t there in the way I should have been, and it caused pain. There was a rupture and it hurt Frank’s performance. He wasn’t able to focus on his job because he was preoccupied with the rupture.

RELATIONAL RUPTURE REALITIES

1) RELATIONAL RUPTURES ARE INEVITABLE. 

2) THEY ARE ALMOST ALWAYS CAUSED BY BOTH PEOPLE IN THE RELATIONSHIP. 

3) RUPTURES IN THE WORK CONTEXT DECREASE OUR OVERALL WELL-BEING, CREATIVITY, AND PERFORMANCE.

4) WHILE WE DON’T SEEK THEM OUT, RUPTURES PROVIDE AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE A RELATIONSHIP STRONGER THAN IT WAS BEFORE. AND THIS LEADS TO BETTER TEAMWORK AND PERFORMANCE.

 

How to Repair a Relational Rupture

In all my relationships—but especially with the people I lead—my job is to go first in doing everything I can to repair the rupture.

Your job as a leader is to go first as well.

It’s not your employees’ responsibility to repair a rupture, even if they caused it. It’s yours. Even if it’s a colleague, go first and help create the trust you want in your team.

It’s hard to go first. It’s one of the most difficult things that come with the territory of leadership and relationships in general.

Here are 3 practices that will help you repair relational ruptures… 

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* The name and some circumstances have been changed to protect confidentiality.

Dr. Todd Hall writes on psychology, relationships, and leadership and is currently offering a free 5-week ecourse on becoming a Connected Leader at DrToddHall.com.