It happens. No matter how hard you try to do everything right or to maintain a certain type of relationship, you will probably experience at least one major falling-out at some point in your life and your career path. It could happen for so many different reasons. Maybe it’s personal, maybe it’s not. And if you are aiming to become a leader, you are most likely going to need to network. You’ll find people and companies that you work well with, who can help support and promote you. And sometimes those bonds are lifelong. Sometimes they don’t work out, but it’s not necessarily a falling-out; you just have to go separate ways. Or maybe you don’t fit with exactly what that group is looking to support, but there are no hard feelings. But what if you are working with a company and you get along great for a while, but then something happens—maybe a heated disagreement about something that is very near to your heart—and they decide to break ties with you and swear to never affiliate with you again? Now that sounds really extreme and pessimistic, and maybe it is! I don’t expect that that will happen frequently or even violently. But something like that could happen.
Or what if you have a close friend who you heavily rely on for emotional support and then you have an argument or you or your friend does something that the other sees as a serious betrayal of trust? These types of things happen in relationships all the time, and usually the relationship recovers eventually, or sometimes quickly. But you will probably encounter some people who do not resolve issues in a healthy and fair manner. You may even grow to love those people and then find yourself in a situation where the relationship is just not working anymore.
I bring this up, not because I think you should be living in fear of relationships falling through, but because it is something that can be easier to get through—if it does happen—if you are prepared and aware that it is something you might have to deal with.
Sometimes a falling-out will be severe enough that the other party will refuse any further discussion with you. It may seem overly-stubborn or unfair to you, but it does happen sometimes. But everybody handles everything differently. And when you suffer a falling-out, whether it’s in the personal or professional realm, it can be very challenging to overcome for some people. Now, it’s not as tough for everyone. I’ve noticed three main ways that people tend to react in this type of situation.
- They say, “Good riddance! The past is in the past! I’m better off without them anyway!” and confidently move on with their lives.
- They struggle with it emotionally for a bit, but ultimately come to understand that it was for the best and they learn from the mistakes that were made.
- They take it very personally and never completely get over it, but rather view it as a form of rejection or personal failing.
Now, you might not exactly fit into one of these categories, but from my experience, most people tend to lean in one of these directions. Each of those three reactions has its own pros and cons, though I find that #2 tends to be the healthiest. The ones can sometimes too easily throw away relationships, without trying for resolution, and the threes blame themselves and don’t always end relationships when they maybe ought to. (That’s just in general terms—not all ones and threes have those issues!) Whereas I find that the twos tend to maintain a pretty rational balance of what is healthy and what is not.
If you know me well, or even if you have just read a few of my blogs, you can probably guess that I am not #1. I try to be sometimes, and I wish I could be in some situations, but I do not really let things roll off my back too easily. I’m somewhere between two and three, depending on the situation. Unfortunately, I think my natural tendencies are more in line with #3, but I try very hard to adjust as a two would.
Now, how you initially feel about a falling-out cannot necessarily be controlled. But you do have some control over how you manage it. I find that whether we are a one, two, or three, tends to be something natural, based on our personality. But just because you initially don’t care doesn’t mean you can’t still push yourself to learn from the mistakes of both sides. And just because you care too much initially doesn’t mean you can’t do the same either. When there is a huge falling-out between two sides that have been close for a long time, it seems that it is rarely entirely the fault of one side or the other.
So my advice would be to try and recognize how you react, or how you would react in this type of situation. Are you a one, two, three, or something entirely different? Or does it really depend on the situation? (You could very easily react differently to personal situations than you do to professional ones, or vice versa. And each specific situation could be different too). If you feel like you have the tendency to blame others, then try to be prepared to look for what you may have also done to contribute to the falling-out. And if you tend to always blame yourself for everything, try to understand what the other side did as well.
But ultimately, I would recommend that you try your best to make peace with the situation and learn from it, but do not take it so seriously that it brings you down. Falling-outs will happen. They will often surprise you when they do happen. But they usually won’t. Most relationships either never officially end or do not end in a big dramatic blowup between the two sides. And no matter how prepared you are, a falling-out will always be tough. Nothing you do in advance can fully prepare you for how you will act or feel at the time, if it does happen. But I just think that it can be helpful to brainstorm to yourself about healthy ways to handle certain types of situations, so that if they ever do occur, you have a better idea of how you want to handle it. Sometimes, when we are stuck in the heat of an issue, we do not always think so rationally, which is one reason why it can be good to think it through a little before it ever occurs—when you are completely rational!
Hopefully, you will not have too much experience with falling-outs, because they can be very painful. But if you do, just keep your head high, and keep your strengths in mind. Falling-outs do not mean that you are a failure or incapable of anything! They just happen sometimes. Don’t lose faith in yourself, and keep on chugging along!