Sometimes, the relationships in our lives can become toxic over time. Whether it’s in the relationships we hold with our colleagues, our partners, our family members, or our bosses, toxicity can creep in and have destructive effects.
In this article, we will be sharing how mediation can help toxic behaviors in relationships so that you can find a positive and peaceful way forward, even with people you struggle with.
What Defines a Toxic Relationship?
When people think of toxic relationships, they often picture romantic relationships gone wrong. However, toxic relationships come in all forms, from personal to professional. These relationships can be incredibly destructive and can cause a lot of pain to those involved.
According to Psychology Today, “the term (toxic) was first used by Lillian Glass in her 1995 book Toxic People and was used to indicate a relationship that is built on conflict, competition, and the need for one person to control the other.” Toxic relationships are typically:
- Lacking in trust
It is thought that people who struggle with mental health difficulties tend to be more susceptible to toxic relationships because they are often more sensitive to negative emotions and this can make them more vulnerable. Thankfully, mediation can help.
How Mediation Can Help
Mediation is a helpful and unbiased way to mend broken relationships. A mediator acts as the middle man between two parties, helping people come to an agreement that benefits both sides. Mediation is a helpful and practical way for many people to face up to their disagreements and to consider the best and healthiest way to move forward.
Many people in toxic relationships choose mediation for support as it is less formal than counselling, it’s not about judging who is right or wrong, it’s completely confidential, and it is not legally binding. As such, mediation can be used in both personal and professional environments to help individuals overcome their issues and move forwards with their lives.
Let’s take a look at how mediation can help solve toxic behaviours in relationships.
- Reestablishes Lost Connections
So often in toxic relationships, the connectedness we form can become lost. This is the result of two people pulling away from each other, rather than closer together. This connectedness can be something that is lost slowly over many years or within a matter of days. It all depends on the circumstances that have caused such a disconnect.
Mediation can help as it supports both parties in reestablishing that connectedness. This is the vital first step in mending toxic behaviours in relationships as it helps two people connect again in a safe and supportive environment where they feel listened to and protected.
- Promotes the Importance of Active Listening
One of the most important roles a mediator has to play in situations like these is that of active listener. More often than not, those in toxic relationships become more frustrated and upset over time as they struggle with the reality they’re not being listened to.
A good mediator is always an effective and active listener. They will not take sides and therefore they remain a neutral spectator throughout. As we shared on our blog, “Mediation is not just random talk but having constructive dialogue. Dialogues are two way conversations where one person speaks while the other listens then responds […] Mediators will find that practicing active listening and encouraging the parties to also actively listen makes a big difference both in the mediation process and final outcome.”
- Helps Promote Healthy Communication Styles
Mediation is one of the best ways to promote healthy communication styles for those in toxic relationships. It provides a safe and confidential environment for both parties to express their feelings, share their concerns, and be honest about their struggles. As this communication is being carried out in the presence of a mediator, it is an impartial process and therefore is typically healthier and more productive than it otherwise would be.
As a result, mediation can be a positive way for those in toxic relationships to learn how to communicate more effectively with one another so that progress can be made, hurts can be healed, and everyone can move forward into the future.
- Maintains a Sense of Calm
Mediation can be particularly helpful for maintaining a sense of calm. For those in toxic relationships, it can be easy for tempers to flare, tears to rise to the surface, and calm explanations to turn into naming and blaming. Often, harsh words are said the relationships deteriorate even further as a result.
Mediation provides support by maintaining a sense of calm during difficult times. Through strategies such as active listening and the offering of unbiased support, it is possible for mediators to help maintain calm in even the most difficult situations. This can have an overwhelmingly positive effect on those receiving the support and could teach people the benefits of maintaining a sense of calm during trying times.
As you can see, there are many ways mediation can help toxic behaviors in relationships. We hope this article has encouraged you to consider the benefits of mediation in your own life, whether you are seeking support personally or professionally.
written by: SOPHIE BISHOP