You’ve had a bit of an argument with Susan at the office and are feeling a bit awkward about what to say to her when you come in tomorrow. Maybe you’re thinking you will just let her be the one to break the ice, after all what she said to you was quite offensive. This is the point for a word of caution. You don’t want this to be  the beginning of a downward spiral where neither of you speak to each other.

We are all sensitive to being ignored and it feels like a slight to our identity if we are not acknowledged. Our human nature craves that we be seen, it’s part of our sense of importance and validity. If you look the other way and fail to say ‘hello’, Susan may  interpret this as an intentional rebuff. As a mediator, I note with interest how often part of a complaint from both parties in a dispute is that the other doesn’t say hello or good morning to them.

So the rule is make a  point of giving a friendly greeting to Susan( or whoever your difficult person is).  Even if it feels awkward and you don’t get anything back, continue to do the respectful thing – a brief greeting with a smile. This paves the way for comfortable interaction with someone- both those we don’t yet know and those that there have been difficulties with. Don’t wait for them, take the initiative and set the tone for healthy communication.

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