Heeding the Walking-Away Moment
By Steve Wickham
The Banking Royal Commission in Australia has determined that customers generally stay with their ‘trusted’ institution too long, believing rhetoric when there isn’t sufficient reason to stay; when there are ample warning signs to leave.
I also attended a mentoring professional development session recently where the topic of walking away – knowing and heeding the right time to walk away in conflict to regain emotional composure – was raised.
There are at least two opportunities to walk away with wisdom:
To walk away from something permanently that has lasted for too long, and, to walk away from something temporarily where space is required. Knowing how and when to make these two decisions requires wisdom.
Let’s handle these one at a time:
Discerning when to walk away from AN ARRANGEMENT that has become toxic
Some arrangements, and these can be business arrangements or marriages or arrangements with other entities, wind up in a very non-productive place, where there is only pain. Inevitably we may end up staying too long in an arrangement that continues to get worse or takes us further from the hopes we had of that arrangement to begin with.
The conflicts become more and more dire, positions are polarised all the more, and the weapons of mass verbal, emotional, and even physical, destruction are deployed more often.
The arrangement is toxic if it is getting worse and has no hope of getting better.
Both party to the relationship have a hard choice to make. Is it time to walk away? It is certainly time to get help. And sometimes getting help is primary, but I find from a counselling perspective, people inevitably leave getting help too late. There is too much toxicity to deal with.
But there is always hope when both want to work together.
Certainly, marriages get to this point, where a couple have been conflicted for years and then arrive at a state of devitalisation. If both partners want more from the marriage there is hope in the battle against the toxicity that has formed. In marriages where there is abuse, the person being abused will almost certainly feel they stayed too long.
Employment relationships are another good example. If two employees are required to work together cohesively, and they cannot, and all avenues of reparation have been exhausted, the dynamic must be changed. A walking-away moment has been reached.
It takes courage to accept that a walking-away moment has been reached.
Ironically, it is peace that is experienced when a person has arrived at this point. But for the other person or entity, this is where the grief literally begins – in the parting – because they’re months if not years behind in the processing.
Very few situations offer up amicable separation. There is almost always one party more jilted than the other. It’s just the way it is.
Discerning when to walk away from A SITUATION that has become toxic
To all relationships comes the concept of struggle. It is only a matter of time before close working relationships are tested in the crucible of conflict. All parents know this implicitly, as do all marriages. I mean, what marriage and what family doesn’t experience conflict? But it can come as a shock when the relationship seemed initially so well matched.
Until conflict has been met, the relationship isn’t real.
Whether it is in our parenting, or a marriages, or in our employment, or in any other relationship arrangement, there are times when emotions come to the fore, and regrettable things are said and done. The walking-away moment comes before such damage takes place. It requires humility in one person to suggest that walking away for a short time will allow both people to regain their composure.
The wisdom in heeding this walking-away moment is in the foresight to protect the relationship from things that are said or done that will injure it, given that many things that are said or done can be said in the heat of the moment, and may not even be truly meant.
If there is sufficient wisdom in both they can make the courageous choice to walk away for a short time to process emotions, such that they can come back at a later time to resolve the conflict amicably.
One vital truth to hold onto as we endure within conflict:
Conflict is an opportunity to further deepen trust.
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