Managing Challenging Relationships


The quality of your life will never be greater than the quality of your relationships.

‘When you are in the final days of your life, what will you want? Will you hug that college degree in the walnut frame? Will you ask to be carried to the garage so you can sit in your car? Will you find comfort in rereading your financial statement? Of course not. What will matter then will be people. If relationships will matter most then, shouldn’t they matter most now?’Max Lucado

Is there someone in your life – a spouse, a colleague, a family member, a friend – who you dread being around?

Is this relationship costing you energy, patience, time, and peace?

Do you find yourself constantly reacting to this person? Are your emotions – anger, frustration, hurt, desperation – frequently triggered?

Do you want to create change but aren’t sure how – especially without the ‘someone’ on board?

Challenging or toxic relationships result from miscommunication, incomplete and destructive conflict resolution, and differences of opinion, values, and culture. Yet if an initial problem has passed without it being fully and healthily recognised and resolved, an unhealthy and increasingly entrenched pattern of interaction – a relationship ‘status quo’ – has been created which in itself becomes a larger, and longer term, issue:

Healthy relationships: Forming –> Storming –> Norming –> Performing[1]
[1] Tuckman, Bruce W (1965). “Developmental sequence in small groups”. Psychological Bulletin. 63 (6): 384–399.

Unhealthy relationships: Forming –> Ineffective Storming –> Abnorming –> Underperforming

Our workshop

Relationships take two – but this workshop only takes one.

Our experiential workshop focuses on identifying the unfavourable norms and behaviours present in your challenging relationship, the costs of these norms, and a self-determined, workable solution for you to adjust your own behavioural norms (including ineffective storming) to consciously influence your relationships.

Movement from underperforming to high-performing relationships involves four steps:

1. Recognise:
• Your values, and the degree to which they are present in the relationship
• Your natural, healthy relational roles, and the disruptive roles and behaviours which are played out in the relationship
• The barriers created for you, by you, that hinder a mindset of ownership and empowerment
• Past and present elements that influence you, the other person, and your relationship system
• Where to consciously focus your energy so that you can control, influence, or remain mindful and unattached to these relationship system elements

2. Resist:
• Being emotionally triggered, thereby maintaining the status quo; instead, creating a thoughtful space between stimulus and response for effective action

3. Reframe:
• Your old thought patterns and beliefs about the relationship system, cultivating one that will support your identified personal and relationship goals

4. Respond:
• Through identifying and setting boundaries
• Through identifying ways to escalate the addressing of behaviours
• By cultivating empathy
• With hands-on, situation-specific practice during the workshop

What we can’t promise

Of course, we would love to tell you that all of your relationships, all of the time, will be easy, fun, deep, fulfilling, [insert your own adjectives here]. But we can’t.

What we can do is work with you, an integral part of the relationship system, to affect change. You will be well-equipped to do so, but we cannot guarantee how the changes you make will be received.

What we can promise

A safe, supportive space where you can learn with others to:
• Move from feeling like a victim to adopting a mindset of ownership and empowerment
• Reframe your relationship, creating a new, true-to-you perspective that leaves room for change
• Raise your awareness of disruptive roles and behaviours and improve your ability to communicate these in order to raise others’ awareness
• Learn skills to step out from an emotionally-triggered state into authentic, clear-minded presence
• Strategically identify the elements of your relationship system that you can control and influence, and and consciously choose to focus on these to create change


Please note: We respect that relationships may be for some a sensitive topic. It is not necessary for delegates to disclose names or the nature of their challenging relationship.