The breakup of a relationship is emotionally devastating to both parties, whether the relationship is a marriage or a relationship between parent-child, friends, coworkers, siblings or other family members. To avoid a complete breach or to mend one that has already happened depends on a willingness to evaluate what went wrong and respond honestly to issues the other person raises. The more open you are, the more likely you'll resolve the issue.
Confront Your Own Feelings
Both you and the other person involved must each deal with your own negative emotions before trying to renew communication. For example, you may feel that an adult child has hurt your trust. As in most conflicts, you both may think that you are right about what wrong. Ask if it's better to feel right than to re-establish a relationship, advises the Summit Counseling Center in its essay, "Fixing a Broken Relationship With Your Adult Child." Separate your feelings from the key issues, so you aren't diverted by trying to "fix" what you see wrong in your child.
Don't Lay Out Blame
Once you feel ready to reach out, choose the timing and wording of any overture carefully. For example, avoid such vague phrases as, "spelling out where I thought we were," advises "Washington Post" columnist Carolyn Hax. Such statements risk coming off as overly harsh or accusatory. Consider how the other person may react in phrasing your appeal. Read key sentences aloud to ensure that you're hitting the right notes and practice various scenarios before the meeting.
Listen Without Judgment
Practice active listening skills if the other person agrees to meet with you or talk on the phone, without disputing the other person's feelings. Resist the impulse to evaluate or criticize any comments that you hear. Otherwise, you risk pushing the other person away and foreclosing opportunities for future communication, states a Huffington Post's July 2013 advice column, "Seven Steps to Heal Broken Trust." Agree to disagree, for now, with an idea toward working out the fine points later.
Prepare for Tough Questions
Acknowledge your own role in breaking trust. This step is important in dealing with highly charged situations such as infidelity, say relationship counselors Linda and Charlie Bloom in a July 2013 Huffington Post article, "Seven Steps to Healing Broken Trust." Expect to field tough questions from your partner, without being defensive or evasive, even if you find them unnecessary or repetitive. Treat them as a chance to build the goodwill needed to move on from the situation.
Seek Professional Support
Don't presume, once you've had that heart-to-heart talk, that your ex-partner, ex-friend or estranged relative will automatically see things your way or even want to re-establish contact. Relationships sometimes run out of steam over failure to reconcile opposing personalities or views, asserts "Psychology Today" columnist Dr. Frederic Neuman. However, as a last resort, seek joint counseling. Even if the other person's response remains negative, keep the door open for future contact.