Monthly Archives: October 2013

There Is Something Wrong With You

I am BetterI think most people have had a friend/acquaintance act like this when they’re explaining how someone’s behaviour has offended them:

YOU: …and that’s why I was upset with Jon today because I felt that was really rude.

ACQUAINTANCE: Jon is always really nice to me.

YOU: That’s…good. I just feel that he often does things like this and I’d like it to stop.

ACQUAINTANCE: I’ve never had a problem with him. He even offered me cookies in the hall just now.

YOU: I think I will talk to him about it.

ACQUAINTANCE: I don’t know what I’ve done right but he’s always just really liked me.

I have to be clear that I do not need people to commiserate with me if I’m experiencing a problem with someone. In fact, I know that just breeds more ill feelings and, while I may feel justified if my friend raptly agrees with me, I actually end up feeling more knotted up. The thing that is irritating about the “I never have that problem” response is that your friend is making themselves out to be better than you. They are saying that, clearly, there is something wrong with you if you are having this problem. Or that there may be something wrong with everybody else, but that they are special because they don’t have that problem. Or that they just plain don’t believe your interpretation of the problem.

Don’t be that person. Let your friend vent and then respond as if you care. There’s no need to further trash the individual in question, but show that you are mindful about your friend’s well being and happiness. It’s good to tactfully offer other explanations for the culprit’s behaviour, but responding with a comment that puts your friend on a different rung of the human hierarchy is just insensitive. Nobody wants to confide in someone like that.

Just because you know a person in a given way does not mean everyone will experience that person in the same fashion. Acting out of a good spirit certainly means standing up for others if you feel they have been unjustly portrayed, however you don’t need to make yourself out to be better than others to do so.

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