Regret over fractured relationships, professional and personal. That's dominating this holiday season, at least in the circles I cruise. Fortunately, there are myriad communications strategies and tactics to repair these.
For example, clients we have pissed off who are no longer clients or with one foot out the door can be seduced back into the force field of good feeling.
One way is through their children. Offer an internship, coaching help with the personal essay for college or law school, or include them in the next power party.
Another is through the lure of cute. Send a photo of your rescue dog, along with the receipt from the donation you made in their name to their favorite charity.
A third is through clever. Dress up our adult daughter as Mrs. Santa and have her deliver homemade chocolate chip walnut cookies at the client's office.
You're getting the idea. Family, of course, is tougher. There are ancient layers of resentment that have hardened into emotional granite. Most effective for blasting through is the one-way apology. There's no providing, lawyer-like, the laundry list of why we were so negligent in the relationship. We simply say we are sorry and that we will try to do better. Attach a gift such as a $25 gift certificate from Dunkin' Donuts.
Friends we can best approach indirectly. That gives them space to think about us in a new light. What has been most effective for me is to shop in toy stores or hobby shops. In the latter I picked up some beads and wire. In the parcel I mailed at the post office I included the note, "May you string together great happiness this coming year." Sure, it's work, but the relationship is worth it.