Ask any rancher about the uses and purposes of fencing and you will hear things like this:
- marks your property line,
- protects and keeps things in that you want (cattle, sheep, etc.),
- impedes or keeps things out that you don’t want to allow in.
Because fencing serves useful purposes and has value, fencing is worth preserving. Cowpokes ‘ride the fence’ with the idea of finding breaks in the fence, so they can be identified and mended. Fencing can be breached or broken by:
- intent or
- through forces of nature.
Fencing can be a metaphor and a reality. We have borders and connections in relationships (personal and professional) much the same as we have fencing along property lines. When we find a fence that needs mending (a breach in a relationship), it is good to try to mend it. This is the process known as ‘mending fences.’
Now, the reality is that unlike wire, wood, rock or other types of man-made fence, the mending that takes place between people may not be mended solo. One party may initiate, but another must reciprocate for the breach to be mended. There are times and some things that simply require one or both sides to let go and move on.
What are the alternatives? Conflict, for one. But to what end? What is the value of the feud in contrast to the rewards of having the breach healed? Maybe one party was truly wronged, but there is no real way to correct the harm. What to do? Think about this:
“If everyone practiced an ‘eye for an eye,’ then pretty soon, the whole world would be blind.” – Mahatma Gandhi
You and I have seen enemies become friends through the proper effort. We have also seen friends become opponents or enemies. There are as many ways to mend the fence of a ruptured relationship as there are people. The first step is often to try to understand what has happened, from the other person’s perspective. As Dr Stephen Covey wisely wrote,
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
So asking and listening are important. Mending fences can start with something as easy as an email. It often takes more to do the mending, but if the ‘fence’ has value, it is worth the effort. Consider the value and the peace of mind fence-mending can bring.
Then take the baby steps to do it.