Archive for the ‘accusation’ Tag


Thanks to Victoria and Sheryl for their comments – my jumping off point for today. Victoria expressed the hope that people would share more stories. I am so hopeful that her wish will be met that I’ll start this brief entry by sharing a story of my own. As for Sheryl’s comment about avoiding accusations, I will add one more thing by way of my own story. Don’t start off by accusing oneself.

My story? I’ll change it a little bit to protect the innocent – including me. Our relationship had been a long one, and our current rift was deep. So deep that she threatened to go away mad. In my “wisdom” I arranged for us to meet and talk in neutral territory – a quiet booth in a restaurant that had just enough noise to cover our conversation for privacy’s sake and public enough to discourage voice-raising. “So, what are we supposed to do?” she said. “Well,” I responded (in my mistaken “wisdom”), “let’s just start talking about it. For example, I’ll admit that I was always somewhat jealous of you.”

“Oh,” she responded. “That explains it,” as she reached for the menu preparing to order. End of conversation. Well, sort of. I found other ways to keep it going, but it was in no way a successful reconciliation.

The lesson? Maybe you can tell me. I do realize that by “confessing” I had, from her point of view, reached the end of the conversation as soon as it started. So, Sheryl, the recommendation — don’t start out being accusatory – even if it’s directed toward oneself.

Now (in my “wisdom”) I realize that the opening step has to be a simple appeal to a reason for working at reconciliation. For example, opening with, “I really miss you.” Or maybe, “Could we get together to talk about what happened?” or possibly, “I’m really unhappy with this bad feeling between us. Could we get together over coffee and talk about it?”

To tell the truth, I like “I really miss you,” or a variant. It’s an opener, not a closer. And it doesn’t involve too many words. Too many words spoil the possibilities. For example, proposing to talk about “what happened,” could evoke the response, “What do you mean, ‘what happened?'” and you are suddenly on the defensive.

So, what do you say? Are you willing to give Victoria and me some examples of how you started the process of reconciliation? Or of how someone else started it with you?




Well, there wasn’t much interaction in response to my first posting. Oh well, there is a lesson to be learned. Reconciliation requires connection. Perhaps a blog entry isn’t an effective way to connect. Or maybe there isn’t much interest in reconciling. That would be too bad, but maybe people really would rather hang on to anger and resentment while sacrificing a relationship.

I think this was a nice example of the difficulty making a connection, which is, of course, the first step. That step, though, can be pretty uncomfortable with lots of things standing in the way. So, instead of being positive, I’m focusing here on some things that prevent  establishing the connection that leads to reconciliation.

Once upon a time it wasn’t possible to “tell someone off” without being at least face to face, or maybe phone to phone. Now if you want to vent your anger, all you need to do is send an e-mail. That way you don’t have to see the humanity in your target’s face.

Back in my college days, it used to be possible to act on second thoughts. It was probably a daily occurrence that the mailman (sic) found at least one girl waiting by the drop box to plead to have her angry letter recovered. Second thoughts. But that e-mail, once out there, is committed.

So, what about sending the e-mail? Under any circumstances, it should be policy to think about the purpose of your message. If reconciliation is your goal, then there has to be an opening for further communication. In that case, it’s a good idea to follow my mother’s (and grandmother’s) advice and assume there is good in the other person. That assumption would require avoiding “you” statements.

If the goal is to cause pain for the person who has become your enemy, then use lots of “you” statements. The word “you” doesn’t have to appear in the sentence, but it is conveyed when blame is placed without any recognition that there may be imperfection on both sides. Reread the e-mail. Have you said something like You were wrong. You had no reason to do what you did. How could you be so thoughtless? I never guessed you were that kind of person.

 Another variant on the “you” statement is attributing motive to your “enemy” as if it were fact. You only did that because you have no ability to understand how other people feel. Or maybe, you were just using me to get back at someone else. Or, worse yet, it might be attribution of a personality characteristic. Obviously you were being passive aggressive.

“You” statements are pretty sure to hurt the recipient. If that’s the goal, then there’s no sense even talking about reconciliation. The victim of the accusation(s) has very few options: be silent, be defensive, or retaliate. None of those things work to heal the relationship.

So, what are the practical lessons?

  1. Count higher than ten; think carefully about your goal; if you want to cause pain for the other person, as in “I don’t get mad; I get even” then vent your anger with no opening for a positive response.
  2. If you want to avoid reconciliation, then be accusatory. Demean, accuse, blame your chosen opponent.
  3. If you are not up to confronting the person whose actions hurt you, then consider avoidance. It won’t add to your comfort – or heal the connection –or make you feel better about yourself. But maybe it will be better for your new “enemy.”

Here we have a page of ways to prevent reconciliation. And this seminar is supposed to be about ways to encourage reconciliation. So, I call on you. Any positive lessons to be applied?

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