Reality Check: One Small Kind Act

Reality Therapy emphasizes our need for relationships. That’s not radical; it makes sense that being able to get along with others generally leads to a more satisfying life.

So what if you need to deal with someone who dislikes you? Or who seems to have a nasty grudge against the whole world? Can you think of anyone like that? Someone who’s cranky, uncooperative, or just plain hard to get along with? What do you do?

I’m not suggesting that you try to “make” this person your best buddy. However, if it’s someone with whom you regularly interact—perhaps someone at work—it might be worth making the effort to try to improve the relationship.

In the book, “Counseling with Choice Theory,” there’s a step suggested for marriage counselling that could be helpful, even when the relationship is far from marriage.

In this structured approach, it’s suggested that each person choose one small thing that they know would please their partner. Choose an action that you can do fairly regularly (i.e. not one grand gesture) and then do it for a week or so.

Could this have a positive effect on a non-marriage relationship? Think about what you know of this person with whom you can’t get along, and come up with one small action that you think would please them…

Remember, you are thinking of what would please the other person, not you! So it might require that you take some time and think about them: What do they often grumble about? What have they said they like? What are their habits?

This could be as simple as bringing a coffee or a snack every day for a week, or going out of your way to keep an area tidy that they’ve complained about.

This is an experiment, so limit your expectations! Nothing may happen. The person may accept your coffee and still be grumbly. They may be suspicious of your motives: why are you suddenly being kind and considerate? What do you want?

Well, why are you doing this? If asked, tell the truth: you’d like the two of you to have a better relationship and you thought this small gesture might help. If nothing good results, well, you’re out a week’s worth of coffees.

However, if this does get the two of you talking and causes even a slight improvement in your relationship, that could significantly improve your life.

But wait! What if you perceive that the problem is the other person’s fault!  What if you think the other person “should” be more responsive? What if you feel you “shouldn’t” have to do anything, the relationship is poor because of them, not you!

Your perception may be right, or not. The question is, does clinging to that belief (you’re right; they’re wrong) help?  If you’re satisfied with the way things are, then that’s your choice. If you want things to be different; however, then waiting for the other person to make a move will likely keep you waiting for a long, long time, won’t it?

What do you think? Is it worth a try?

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