Friends enhance our lives in many ways. They make us laugh, support us in troubled times, keep us company and share all life's experiences -- good and bad -- with us. This can make the deterioration of a friendship difficult to take. No matter what the reason for the falling out, the key is to act quickly in order to make amends and avoid the situation getting out of hand.
Get in touch with your friend and apologize. Concentrate on the desired outcome, advises therapist and behavioral coach Marisa Peer. Even if you don't think you are responsible for the hurt feelings, you may have to swallow your pride and be the first person to say sorry.
Arrange a face-to-face meeting, which is much more personal and effective than a discussion by phone, text or email. Show your friend you care by offering a hug. Sometimes actions speak louder than words, and physical affection goes a long way toward rebuilding a relationship.
Avoid getting into the same argument that caused the hurt feelings in the first place. To rebuild the friendship, you will have to discuss what caused the falling out, but it's possible to do so in a productive way, says Peer. Listen to what your friend has to say. Resist the temptation to interrupt to get your own point across. Stay calm and do your best to see things from your friend's point of view. Have no preconceived ideas about how your discussion will go, says Rebecca Bent, CEO of The Handel Group. Keep an open mind and the outcome is more likely to be positive.
Be willing to take responsibility for your part in the quarrel. Be honest about what you did wrong. Don't wait for your friend to go first, says Bent. If you take the lead, your friend will be more likely to own up to mistakes.
Empathize with your friend's feelings. Say that you want to be friends again because you truly value the companionship. Ask if your friend is willing to move on and make the effort to rebuild your relationship.
Have an honest discussion about how you want the friendship to move forward from this point. Tell your friend what bothered you about your relationship, and suggest how things could be improved for both of you. Give your friend the chance to make observations and suggestions. Work together to make your friendship even better than it was before.
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