When getting along with others, there are times when things do not go well. You address the person(s) involved with the hope and expectation of coming to a mutually satisfying resolution. Lots of time this works. An example is choosing a designated driver when drinking and driving is involved.
However, sometimes it does not work, or works for a while and then reverts back. When the situation is ongoing, a different approach is needed. Developing strategies is one way to address the situation.
The goal of the strategy is to change the relationship in a way that enhances the relationship (win-win).
The strategy is to provide a reasonable consequence that motivates positive change.
The person(s) developing the strategy choose behaviours that are congruent with who she or he is.
Consistency is imperative to success. You need to be consistent (in this case leave after 30 minutes) in carrying out the strategy to avoid giving mixed messages to the other person.
NOTE: How the strategy is carried out is critical to its effectiveness. The delivery and the intent needs to be in a warmly matter-of-fact attitude with the genuine goal of enhancing the relationship(s). If it is carried out with anger or a negative “I’ll show you.” attitude, the consequence intended turns into punishment. This will backfire and likely destroy relationships.
Occasional lateness is not a problem. Life is life and sometimes tardiness cannot be helped or people just mess up. The problem occurs when someone is consistently late and will not respond positively to complaints about it. Usually they dismiss or discount the complaints with accusations of over-reacting and over sensitivity.
Cynthia’s friend Rhonda is chronically late. Cynthia decides how long she is willing to wait past the agreed upon time without getting resentful. She decides on 30 minutes. For example, if they agree to meet at 6:30 pm, Cynthia is willing to wait until 7:00 pm without being resentful. After that, if Rhonda has still not come, she is going to carry out her Plan B for the evening.
The next time Cynthia and Rhonda agree to meet up, Cynthia tells her in a friendly manor that she is OK with waiting up to 30 minutes longer than the time they agree on. If Rhonda arrives within that time frame Cynthia expresses her appreciation. If Rhonda is longer than 30 minutes, Cynthia leaves and carries out her plans on her own. Cynthia is to carry on her relationship with Rhonda as usual. She is not to complain or explain to Rhonda. If Rhonda asks her what happened, Cynthia is to say in a friendly manner she waited the 30 minutes,and then left because she was not sure Rhonda would come. If Rhonda is angry, Cynthia is not to get caught up in her anger. Cynthia can again express that their relationship is important to her. Cynthia has let Rhonda know she will act on her word. Cynthia no longer feels powerless; she is no longer resentful.
How Rhonda responds or reacts lets Cynthia know if Rhonda values their relationship as much as she does. If Rhonda values their relationship and wants to be sure she meets up with Cynthia, she will be there within the 30-minute window, maybe even on time. If Rhonda continues to be too late, Cynthia will realize that Rhonda does not value their relationship. She may choose not to be friends any more.
With care and concern,
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