RELATIONSHIP HYGIENE: Closing Out 2022 With a Clean Slate
By Kristine Steinberg, CEO of Kismet
Just like that — the holiday season is upon us and we are about to enter a period of time that often ends up, in the rear view, being a blur. Then, come January, we eagerly set new goals and resolutions… and 2022 will be but a distant memory. Year in, year out. But because we skip over our personal year-end review, we bring along unconscious baggage and miss an opportunity to set the stage for a fresh year ahead.
This year, I invite you to take an intentional and specific approach to closing out 2022 and release some important mental weight. Instead of a vast reflection of all the good and not-so-good elements of this year, I recommend honing in one area alone: your relationships.
In my experience, the health or dysfunction of our relationships are the makers or breakers of our deep happiness and contentment. When unresolved relationship issues are sitting with us, there is often subtle energy drain and stress accumulation. Clearing this energy up prior to the holidays sets us up for a more joyful, peaceful season and paves the way for a much more seamless, clean transition going into 2023.
Why do we avoid this work? Shoring up our relationships often requires difficult conversations, a prospect that often sends people down one of two paths: avoid them at all costs (passive) or confronting people with tough and possibly negative messages (aggressive). Neither of these options are productive nor have a successful result.
Success depends on an assertive approach. Through assertiveness, instead of going into relationship hygiene discussions to prove a point and protect ourselves, we go in with the intention of resolution and healing by protecting the relationship. Relationship health can be achieved more effectively by inviting people into a safe conversation — one that will offer openness and understanding of where each person is coming from. From this place, determining the next phase of the relationship together becomes possible.
Follow the guidelines below to begin your relationship hygiene effort:
- MAKE A LIST. Determine which relationships feel positive, clean, and healthy in your work life, and consider which ones feel unclear, negative, dysfunctional, heavy, toxic, or undefined. Make a separate list for your personal life. Listen to your gut; when you consider your relationships, your body will have a visceral reaction that will give you insight as to which ones need some cleaning up.
- PRIORITIZE. Look at the names you’ve written down and prioritize the top 5 relationships that you want to focus on and improve from each list (professional and personal). Identify the ones that feel like they’ll be the most difficult conversations to have — prioritize these. Note: In some cases, you may decide that some relationships are not ones you want to bring forward into 2023, and instead ones you want to let go of.
- REFLECT. Consider one challenging relationship and reflect on its narrative. What are the facts, and what are you feeling about it? What is the issue, how has each person in the relationship contributed to it, and what is its effect? Identify specific examples that illustrate the behavior or situation of concern.
- IDENTIFY. The critical question to ask yourself is “What does this relationship need?” (Not “What do I need?” or “What does the other person need from me?”). Tap into your analytical side. What needs to be cleaned up to strengthen the relationship (e.g. more transparency, more honesty, less competitiveness)? What’s at stake to gain or lose?
- EXTEND AN INVITATION. Ask this person if they are willing to have a conversation with you about your relationship. Share how much you value your relationship, why it’s important to you, and frame the conversation as a way to begin 2023 more connected and aligned.
- HAVE THE BOLD CONVERSATION. Talk about the relationship objectively, so that the other person doesn’t feel attacked and get defensive. Describe the situation factually. Own up to your contribution to the problem. Listen and try to understand their perspective. Share your feelings and perspective, too. Discuss together what the relationship needs to be improved and define your plan moving forward.
It takes courage and humility to have these kinds of conversations. The outcome of this effort is deeper, more trusting relationships. You’ll move forward on an intentional path with the people who are important to you. There will be an emotional clearing and energy shifting that will allow you to go into the year ahead with a different kind of freedom and creativity. Plus, you’ll be able to enjoy and celebrate the holidays and the New Year with less stress and a feeling of lightness.
Kristine Steinberg is the CEO of Kismet. She believes that your life should be deeply fulfilling — not tolerated. Partner with Kismet to dismantle fear, define your path, and lead with courage. Start your transformation today: www.thisiskismet.com.