We all know the possible pitfalls of doing business with friends. Unfortunately, we mostly hear the sad stories of how friendships, some of them lifelong, got lost because a business deal went sour or Yoko broke up the band. But what if you don’t want to do business with anyone who isn’t a friend? It’s ugly out there, and I won’t work with people unless I like them.
I recently got inspired by a friend’s new company. They were doing really positive things, and everyone truly loved each other. It was the perfect creative environment for me. Ideas were flowing like wine from a vineyard, I was literally waking up in the middle of the night to write things down, and I was loving it.
There is nothing like creative inspiration. This wasn’t business; it was collaborative artwork, and that’s about the most enjoyable thing you can do in life.
As is normal in the creative world, things went back and forth as we prepared for our media launch, and the inevitable miscommunications occurred. This stuff often happens, and most of it can be resolved with an appropriate apology (or an “oops”), and all is forgiven. When a problem occurs, it’s all too easy to react like they are huge in the moment, when they are not.
When we are on edge, our reactions need to become well-reasoned responses. This means taking some time and seriously communicating with the other person — not firing off an angry text or taking your toys and going home. That’s pure reaction: It’s human, somewhat unenlightened, and usually happens when you are tired or hungry and angry (hangry). I just think we can learn to be better than that, but many people walk right into that tar pit.
Fortunately, my friend and I understood that there were some miscommunications, and we just put everything on hold for a week. We did not read texts or emails about the issue, because everyone needed time to calm down — we decided to put it all in “the parking lot.”
Then, when we did read everyone’s input, seven days later, we would read the last one first, giving us a perspective on the most recent and (hopefully) truest feelings first. I now call this “the seven-day-friend fast” and wholeheartedly recommend it for anyone in a similar circumstance.
So here’s how it works. When you find yourself in a difficult position with a friend, and you want to send a harsh reaction, just put it (and your friendship) on hold for a week. Do the same if you receive something that makes you want to run the other way and hide from someone you are close to — even if you have the urge at that moment to break off the relationship. Most likely you will change your mind in a day or two and regret your choice of words, and this practice can solve a problem and maybe a heartache before it even starts.
After seven days, you will be in a better position to talk things out. In my own case, the connection between everyone involved is now stronger because we took the time to calm down. We have all been through too much to let a miscommunication ruin a couple of decades of a true friendship. This is the way that adults are supposed to behave.
Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., LMFT, is an award-winning therapist and writer. He is a columnist, blogger and the author of seven books, including the newly released “Visualization For Success — 75 Psychological Empowerment Exercises To Get You What You Want In Life.” Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.