Beating around the bush isn’t going to mend a relationship. And the imagination can conjure up problems that don’t exist, making a mountain out of a molehill. The best way to get to the root of a problem? Go directly to the source. Rather than tossing theories around for the next semester, think constructively about the situation, and then take the initiative to close the rift.
While your peer might appear to despise you, there might be something else lurking beneath the surface, particularly if you’ve given him no reason to think negatively of you. Take a step back and look at the situation with a fresh pair of eyes. If your peer is always struggling to barely make the minimum grade but sees you breezing through with straight A’s, he might envy your academic smooth sailing. If he has difficulty making social connections but you're friendly and outgoing, he might be jealous of the ease with which you form new relationships.
Once you feel you’ve gotten to the root of the problem, brainstorm ways to make your social relationship more comfortable. If it looks like you’re breezing through class when in actuality, you’ve been cramming for good grades, show your peer that you understand what it’s like to struggle with algebraic equations and scientific notations. If you struggled with shyness for years before gaining confidence in social situations, let him in on how much time you spent role playing scenarios before being comfortable talking in front of a group. If you’ve done something to cause the animosity between you, try to make amends by apologizing, demonstrating how you have grown and making a meaningful gesture.
Confront your peer -- but in a nonconfrontational manner. Instead of singling him out in the middle of science class, catch him at his locker when the halls are empty or discuss the problem over the phone. You can open with the goal of the conversation. For example, “I’d really like for us to be friends.” If he brushes you off, continue the conversation calmly, using “I” statements instead of “you” accusations that might make him feel cornered. For example, “I’ve noticed there seems to be some friction between us and I’d like to find out how I can help to make things a little smoother,” instead of, “You act like you don’t like me and I don’t know why.” Both convey the same message, but the former conveys concern and initiative while the latter conveys blame.
When All Else Fails
Stick with it if the relationship is important to you. If your peer doesn’t immediately respond to your request for friendship, it doesn’t mean hope is lost. Particularly if something negative has taken place to cause the trouble, it might take him a little time to overcome feelings of hurt, upset or anger, and be willing to hear you out and mend the relationship. Try to be friendly, helpful and supportive, while drawing the line at tolerating rudeness or disrespect if his behavior toward you deteriorates. Ultimately, if there seems to be no hope for the relationship, move forward, taking from the experience what you can to grow personally and develop meaningful friendships.
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