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  • Sharon Borland

#36 Bringing Closure Through Conversation

Do you shy away from conversation when things didn’t go as planned? Clearing things up restores relationship and enables new possibilities.

Sometimes things don’t work out how I planned or expected them to. It could be that I committed to doing something in a certain timeframe and didn’t do it in time or even at all. I might have made a poor decision, broken a promise or delivered something unfit for purpose. Sometimes I act in a way that’s inconsistent with what I’ve committed to myself or others. If all or part of the reason something didn’t work out was down to me, my first desire is to remove myself from it ASAP – hide from it, try to forget about it. Anything to get rid of the discomfort I feel! I might even want to avoid any further contact with the person I let down.

Avoidance is unlikely to lead to a positive outcome, and it might not be that easy to forget and move on. Whereas having a conversation and clearing things up has the power to create understanding, restore relationship, learn lessons and create new possibilities. Perhaps, like me, you find it much easier to see this when someone else caused something not to work out as expected!

So, let’s first consider a few things I could say to clear things up:

  • I want to be clear about what I committed to and what I did or didn’t do

  • I’m going to share what I’ve learned

  • I want to acknowledge the consequences and apologise

  • If there seems to be uncertainty about how someone perceived what I did or said, I’m going to ask them about their experience

If I’m on the receiving end of someone clearing things up, how I choose to listen and respond to them also has the power to shape the future individually, in relationship and in terms of future outcomes. If I’m gracious and affirming of their courage to be clear about what happened:

  • It enables them to be responsible

  • It encourages them to be clear in the future

  • It allows conversation about any further actions to clear up the consequences

  • It creates space for them to move forward powerfully

At times, you might find yourself on different sides of a conversation for closure. Sometimes you’ll be the one who chooses to clear something up and other times you’ll be listening to other people getting clear about what they did or didn’t do, or perhaps who they were being. Whatever position you’re in, you’re modelling something to others – intentionally, or unintentionally. Next time you’re in a closure conversation, what do you want to model?


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