When popular products fail companies yank their best brands off the shelves and bring them back to the lab for reformulation. Sometimes our relationships need the same treatment. It’s necessary at times to break things down in order to build them back up. This is the case with long-term friendships. I have a friend I’ve known practically from the cradle. We are what I call fighting friends, the kind of friends you feel free to be yourself with. These friends have the unique and often unsatisfying experience of knowing you in the raw. Not naked, nasty, but knowing you without the varnish and polish that society says is necessary. We’ve been fighting since we were children, back in the day when it was acceptable to put your friend in a headlock, push her down onto the grass and pull her hair out. We still have these tendencies but we are adults so we use our words instead of our fists. We’ve had long bouts of silence this friend and I brought on by misunderstandings, resentments and pure unadulterated rage. In these instances each of us has wondered whether a friendship that requires so much work, attention and effort was worth the trouble. Most times after weeks of fraught silence the answer was yes. But as with most things, what worked in the past doesn’t always work in the present. The mini battles, the yelling and the finger pointing back and forth were getting on both of our nerves. Things had to change. We took our friendship back to the lab and attempted to reformulate. We laid down rules, mixed in some guidelines, cleared up old resentments and tried again. It didn’t work. We were creatures of habit and it was easier to draw on old knowledge than to see each other for the women we’d become. Life experiences change people and we weren’t the same. With this realization she the consumer and I the buyer rejected the new packaging of our friendship because it contained the same old ingredients. We went back to the drawing board. We spoke, we argued and we had heated debates about what would make our relationship work. We were clear that the breakdown of a lifelong friendship would be the result if we didn’t get the formulation just right. Preliminary results about our strategy are not yet in but we’ve reformulated the friendship and put it back on the shelf. We’ll see if the new product works and if the brand is built to last.
What relationship do you have that needs reformulating?