How to Cope With Difficult Relationships in Family and at Work

There are many times in life when you’re likely to find yourself in relationships that are unhealthy – and particularly damaging for your self-esteem. This happens particularly within the relationships in your family or at work. One of the major issues we are faced with is the stereotype we have created of the perfect job and family. We expect our family to be similar to the loving supportive families portrayed on tv (eg Family Ties, Modern Family, Different Strokes). We also expect our job environment to be fun, supportive and rewarding. With such high expectations, it’s very easy to feel disappointed.

Often family’s are coping with various emotions, life changes, cultural and religious expectations. At work you are placed in an environment with people who you may or may not get along with – or even like. However, you have up find a way to create an effective working relationship in order to enjoy your work and be productive.

There are various ways to cope within families and at work when you are faced with dealing with people who are letting you down, are criticizing you, or are trying to undermine you. When you have to stay in the environment there are 3 things you can do in a relationship that’s letting you down in order to better cope and protect your self-esteem.

1) lower your expectations.

We often judge people against others in the same role (eg a friend’s mum, or an old boss), however we have to allow people to be who they are and not expect any more. If they beat or meet our expectations, we can be pleasantly surprised, just don’t expect them to be anything more than they are.

2) reduce contact

When you are around others with negative energy, do your best to minimize your physical contact with them. Choose your moments to communicate with these people and be calm and confident in your interactions – when you have to be in contact.

3) ask for very little

This is an important one and it’s closely related to lowering your expectations. We ask for things because we expect a certain degree from others (eg expecting your boss to validate you, or expecting a family member to buy you a special gift for your birthday). If you ask for less and expect less, you increase your chances of being pleasantly surprised and you increase your coping resources when your hopes are not met.

In life, you are bound to come across people who rub you up the wrong way, so implementing the above strategies can make life easier and much more enjoyable.