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In Episode 011 we explored the qualities of a positive friendship. But even the greatest BFFs can have bumps along the way. Sometimes there are misunderstandings. Other times emotions get the best of you both, and you say things you didn’t mean, or did mean to say. Let’s call these
Here are some examples of how Friendship Fires start:
- Being left out
- Talking behind someone’s back
- Acting bossy
- Telling secrets
- Sharing something that was private
- Making fun
- Not being invited
- Having a disagreement
- Being a poor sport
- Spreading gossip or rumors
Some fires are accidental and others are started on purpose. Regardless of the intentions, Friendship Fires can leave all involved feeling sad, angry, confused, hurt, or burned.
How do you put out or extinguish Friendship Fires before they become a blaze?
I want to share things I learned in my Girl Power Instructor training. Let’s discuss some conflict resolution Tools by spelling FRIENDS:
F EELINGS – talk to your friend about how you feel about what happened. And do it in person, not only so you avoid a misunderstanding, but also because there is a connection and exchange that only occurs with in-person interaction, not over text or DMs. When you share your feelings, use I-messages that don’t place blame or say YOU. While you may want to say, “I feel sad because YOU didn’t invite me to YOUR party at YOUR house,” that approach kinda points fingers and could add fuel to the fire. Instead try, “I feel sad when I’m left out.” This way is more approachable and disarming, inviting an opportunity to talk it out together.
R ESPECT – for others’ opinions and differences. Everyone has an opinion and everyone wants to feel heard. But if you think you can put this fire out by trying to convince the other person that they’re wrong, you’re right, and they should agree with you, that approach will only make the fire spread. Even if you disagree with someone, over opinions, beliefs, values, etc., you can still show each other respect. Instead of focusing on the ways you aren’t alike, recognize the things you agree on and listen to understand the things you don’t. We have more in common than we think.
I NCLUDE – invite them to spend time with you — at lunch, to work on homework, for a walk and talk, or to hang out and chill. You can get to know each other better one on one. Maybe your time together will help you realize the fire you thought was there was just in your head.
E MPATHY – think about their perspective. We talked in-depth about Empathy in Episode 007 — validating their emotions, identifying through your experiences, considering their perspective, listening to understand, being present, and connecting. If you need a refresher on Empathy, give Episode 007 another listen. 🙂
N ICE – do something nice and be kind. I know you may not feel like it, but showing kindness to someone you’re in conflict with is one of the best ways to start working toward a resolution. When I was young and fought with my siblings, my mom decided part of our consequence was to do something nice or say something nice to each other. And I’m telling you, it worked. When your heart is in it, kindness helps neutralize emotionally charged situations. So do something nice and be kind.
D ISTANCE – take some time off and apart. Sometimes you need space — physical distance, time, and emotional space. Allow for the dust to settle, the boil to reduce to a simmer and cool off, the storm to blow over. Having time apart will allow you both to process what happened and sort out the facts and your feelings. When you’re ready, reach out using another one of these tools.
S ORRY – apologize, even if the other person is more at fault, take responsibility for your actions. You may feel a bit uncomfortable, embarrassed, or afraid to say you’re sorry. Being able to admit you were wrong is a strength, not a weakness. I think more friendships are ruined by stubborn pride and not apologizing than from being humble and acknowledging fault.
So the acronym for all of those tools is FRIENDS: Feelings, Respect, Include, Empathy, Nice, Distance, and Sorry. And as a bonus tool, I want to remind you about Forgiveness, to find peace within yourself, like we discussed in Episode 009.
All friendships experience some form of conflict now and then. It happened to me growing up and happens even as an adult. Sometimes fights and fires make friendships fade, and sometimes they even burn out. But positive friendships, like we discussed in Episode 011, those are the ones you should make the effort to extinguish the fires and work things out.
True friendships are worth fighting for.
To help you remember all of this, I created a “Friendship Fires” poster for you to print out, personalize, and post on your wall where you’ll see it, remember it, practice it, and believe it — that’s the important part. There’s a bonus poster attached to it, too; it will make more sense in a bit. But I thought it would be neat to attach pictures of your positive friendships to that second page.
A few of my favorite books that illustrate putting out Friendship Fires are
Enemy Pie, by Derek Munson
Real Friends, by Shannon Hale
The Never Girls series, by Kiki Thorpe
Movies that explore this are “Harriet the Spy,” “Zootopia,” and “Toy Story.”
If you have favorite books or movies to share, I’d love to hear from you! Ask your parent’s permission to share your favs by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.