Regaining rapport when someone is upset with you



In our last two podcasts, we discussed various aspects of creating rapport with others. We talk about this topic a fair amount in Seishindo because we feel it is an important life tool. If you are not having good relationships with others, you will not be enjoying your life and feeling emotionally fulfilled.

One of the things we have noticed along the way is that, no matter how good a relationship is, occasionally there will be a rough patch that needs to be addressed. So today’s podcast and my Musings below will discuss how to regain rapport with someone who is upset with you.

When you are ready to listen to the podcast click the Listen button below. Note that you will see an outline of the key points discussed.

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I always find it unsettling when someone I care about winds up getting upset with me. At such times it can be all too easy to descend into internal dialogue about what I might have done “wrong” or what the other person could do to be more understanding. It is rare that such internal talk gets me the results I desire, which is to get the relationship back on a secure footing.

One of the most important keys to regaining rapport with someone is to listen intently to what the other person has to say when they are upset, with the intention of really understanding them. So when listening intently it is important to not be considering how you might want to critique what your counterpart has said. Listen with an open heart and emotionally digest what the other person has just communicated. When someone is upset, the last thing they want to hear is that you think what they said is somehow overblown or ill stated.

So in the early stages of a conversation with an upset person, do your best to refrain from correcting them, unless the whole premise for their being upset is totally off the mark. Give the person the opportunity to let off steam. Trying to discern “right from wrong” will rarely if ever help to get the relationship back on track. Also, trying to explain why you did what you did (if they are upset with you specifically) in the beginning of the conversation, usually doesn’t help.

Another point point in regaining rapport is this:
Keep in mind that you can’t go back and redo what you did or didn’t do, and this is especially important if you have done something that might have been lacking in forethought. Personally, I find that offering an apology will go a long way towards beginning to resolve most issues. And yes, be willing to apologize even when you feel that the other person had a role in what transpired. Make your apology without any conditions and without feeling the need for your counterpart to apologize in any way. Again, what is important here is not “right or wrong” but rather that you are truly sorry that your counterpart is upset with you and that you are empathizing with them.

In some instances, you might need to understand and appreciate that your counterpart’s model of the world is different than yours and thus find a way to embrace and understand these differences rather than get upset by the differences or try to counter their arguments with your arguments. In Aikido we say “It takes at least two people to start a fight. Your job is to not be that second person!”

Keep in mind that when a person is feeling angry or hurt, and they communicate their anger to you, it is actually a sign that they feel close to you and want the relationship to be better, and that is something positive! Does this point make immediate sense to you?

When you think about the relationships people tend to get the most upset about, I think you will agree that it is the relationships that are the most important to one or both person’s involved. Child-parent, intimate partners, long time friends, and yes business relationships as well, because often a lot is riding on the quality of a business relationship. That is why I say, consider this- If the relationship had little meaning or little importance to the other person, chances are they would be a good deal less upset with you or their “upsetness” would be short lived. So it is crucial to keep in mind that “this relationship is really important to my counterpart, otherwise they would not be so upset.”. When you are able to sense the importance of the relationship, you will be much more likely to respond in a way that honors the other person and the relationship.

Please keep in mind that your counterpart wants you to be able to really hear them without judgment, and they are also likely wanting you to feel, acknowledge, and share the pain they are feeling. When you are able to let them know that you do truly feel and care about what they are saying, the relationship will definitely begin to mend, and you will find yourself regaining the rapport that you desire.

The podcast shares a good deal more about this important topic. Please have a listen.

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