Frankly Speaking – 5/12/14

Dear Frank,

There is this girl I was friends with in high school and for a while after. We were really close friends, but we had a huge blowout. We have e-mailed back and forth some since, but the friendship just doesn’t seem to be there anymore; I really don’t want anything to do with her anymore. Should I just stop answering the e-mails and hope she takes the hint or tell her straight out?

I am always a fan of being clear with someone upfront and then using the ignore method if that happens to not work out. In this situation, it sounds like there is a past wound that may not have healed for you and you would rather just move on. If that is the case, then why not just say so?

In many instances, we often think others are privy to the same information that we have, feel the same way that we do, or interpret things with the same slant as us. As I have written about before (and I can’t stress enough), this is almost NEVER the case. My bet is that if I asked your “friend” her interpretation of the relationship between you two, I would get a response that varies widely from your own.

Perhaps she is simply trying to deal with your blowout in a different way: trying to move on, put it in the rearview mirror. Maybe act like it didn’t happen. Maybe she desperately wants back the close relationship that you two once had and is going about it the only way she knows how: by continuing to communicate. It’s possible she, too, feels the lack of substance. Or maybe she is completely on the same page and feels that you two are merely artificially extending your relationship when neither of you really want to.

There is nothing wrong with saying, “Look, I just don’t think our relationship has been the same since XYZ happened,” and offer what you think you should do about that. In this case, it might be proposing that you go your separate ways. It need not be a lengthy conversation. It might not be a conversation at all. It might just be a simple statement. No blame need be placed. No fingers pointed. Just your feelings about the situation and be done with it.

Sharing your thoughts and feelings also gives one final chance for reparation. The relationship you have right now might not seem worth the effort, but perhaps the relationship you once had was. What if all it took was the simple statement above for a more honest and open sharing to occur? If this is truly not your desire, then you needn’t pursue it. Either way, it will help provide more closure for both of you.

As I previously alluded to, ignoring works in one of two instances: 1) After you have already made a very clear statement about your intention or your desire and the other person is not acting in accordance, or 2) when there really is no identifiable reason for your decision. In the latter instance, you may have naturally drifted apart after some shared experience ended (school, a job, etc.). In that case, it is perfectly acceptable to minimize or cut contact and simply move on.

If there is a reason, though, as there seems to be here, then share it. If nothing else, it is likely to reduce or eliminate those frantic, “Why haven’t I heard from you?!” e-mails that you otherwise might get with increasing frequency. Don’t leave someone on the hook.

“Frankly Speaking” is a weekly segment on this blog that provides an opportunity for my readers to ask questions aimed at better understanding themselves, others, or their relationship with others. Each week I will select some of those questions to answer here. As you can see, the askers of those questions remain anonymous.

To submit a potential question for future installments, the only thing that I ask is that you first become a fan of my Facebook page. “Like” my page, and then send me a private message with your question(s). Until next week!

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Frankly Speaking – 5/5/14

Dear Frank,

A friend of mine’s brother recently attempted suicide. This is not his first attempt, and my friend is understandably very upset. Is there anything that I could tell her that would help her be able to help her brother?

Suicide is, for obvious reasons, a very serious matter and professional intervention would seem necessary. If he will not seek treatment voluntarily, most (if not all, I believe) states allow for involuntary commitment when a person poses a threat to him- or herself. These may be options that are sought to help her brother.

Here is the harsh truth about suicide: it is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. The afflicted individual, however, does not see his or her situation as temporary. He sees no other way out. Hope no longer exists for a better tomorrow. As outsiders, we can often see potential that the troubled person does not. We can see how things can get better. We see the hope that they don’t.

Suicide is also a very selfish act. This may not sit well with some to hear, but the fact remains: an individual who commits suicide often does so to escape the pain that they are experiencing. In doing so, however, pain is inflicted upon the loved ones left behind.

Both suicide and attempted suicide are bound to invoke similar feelings in loved ones, although obviously there will be some great relief accompanied by an attempt over a completion. In both circumstances though, loved ones are often left with their own guilt. That they “should” have seen something coming, that they “should” have been more involved with the individual, and that they “should” have helped more.

Help your friend to realize that she does have an opportunity to point her brother in the right direction and get him the professional help it sounds like he needs. Help her to understand that she is not responsible for his actions. It is not her fault. It is no one’s fault.  Help her to feel supported by you. Make sure your friend knows that YOU recognize that she is doing everything she can do to help, because I promise she will not believe it on her own.

We are always left thinking we could have done more.

By being supportive, you can actually model for your friend how to show support for her brother. Your friend can pass along encouragement that there are still things worth fighting for and that everything that can be done will be done to help.

Because everyone needs someone to fight for them when they temporarily feel unable to fight for themselves.

“Frankly Speaking” is a weekly segment on this blog that provides an opportunity for my readers to ask questions aimed at better understanding themselves, others, or their relationship with others. Each week I will select some of those questions to answer here. As you can see, the askers of those questions remain anonymous.

To submit a potential question for future installments, the only thing that I ask is that you first become a fan of my Facebook page. “Like” my page, and then send me a private message with your question(s). Until next week!

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Frankly Speaking – 3/31/14

Dear Frank,

      There are a couple of people that I work with that no one seems to get along with. One acts like he is above everyone else and the other tries to act overly friendly and gets on almost everyone’s nerves. What is the best way that we can deal with them on a daily basis?

On a previous segment of Frankly Speaking, I touched upon a somewhat related topic regarding making friends in the workplace. In that response I described how oftentimes the job itself is one of just a few things you might have in common with someone else. The truth is you certainly won’t be best friends with everyone you work with. Indeed there will be people toward whom you gravitate more than others.

Depending on your work environment and how much daily contact you must have with these individuals, you may simply choose to spend your time with someone else. Many people simply choose to distance themselves from anyone who has a negative impact on them. Find others whom you enjoy more and spend the majority of your time with them, if possible.

Your other option is to go the complete opposite direction and befriend your coworkers. Get to know them. Both of the people you described – the arrogant one and the overly friendly one – sound to me like individuals who are acting from a place of insecurity.

We are all insecure about different things, and we all handle those insecurities in different ways. You are seeing two of the latter manifested in these two individuals. What you don’t yet know is the “Why?”

If you’re willing and able, get to know these coworkers and eventually (likely without even having to ask directly), you’ll learn where they are coming from. Perhaps they’re nervous about being new to this job, or maybe their last position did not end well. Maybe they’re just following some bad advice about how to act in the workplace. Either way, once you understand where someone is coming from, you’re a little less likely to be as bothered by it.

An additional benefit of befriending these individuals is that you are then in position to offer feedback to them as a friend and a peer. It is obvious that both of these individuals want others’ approval. They are approaching this in a way that is not effective and actually turning others off, however. Telling this to them now, unsolicited, is likely to have a negative impact if any at all.

When genuine feedback comes from a caring person close to us, though, we are more likely to hear it and incorporate it. But remember, it is not your job (nor your right), to change anyone else. Offering feedback is one thing, but only if it comes from a place of concern for THAT person’s well-being, not your own.

“Frankly Speaking” is a weekly segment on this blog that provides an opportunity for my readers to ask questions aimed at better understanding themselves, others, or their relationship with others. Each week I will select some of those questions to answer here. As you can see, the askers of those questions remain anonymous.

To submit a potential question for future installments, the only requirement that I ask is that you first become a fan of my Facebook page. “Like” my page, and then send me a private message with your question(s). Until next week!

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Frankly Speaking – 3/17/14

How do I bond with my coworkers without getting sucked into office drama?

This is a very common question for many people. Gossiping is indeed one way to bond with others, but it is certainly not the only way. Regardless of your work environment, you probably want to stay away from the drama.

One of the most common fears of entrepreneurship is of social isolation. Of not having the regular human contact that accompanies a 9 to 5 job. What most of those that have taken the leap to self-employment have found, however, is that the connections they have built with others since have actually been much stronger.

Think about the last job you left. How many people did you keep in contact with once you left? How many people do you still keep in contact with now that you’re even further removed? Of those with whom you chose to continue a relationship, why did you do so? I would bet it was because those were the people you liked the most and with whom you had the most in common.

So why does this phenomenon happen? Why do we choose not to keep many of those acquaintances once we leave a job? Why do entrepreneurs find their new connections to be better than that of their traditional job?

When two people work at the same company, they immediately have something in common: their place of employment. Depending on the field, there may be other self-selection factors that people have in common as well. For instance in a hospital setting, multiple people (hopefully!) have a nurturing disposition and a desire to help others.

Once that common thread is removed, however, the differences between two people, even two people working right next to each other, can be striking. Whereas I would always advocate that it can be extremely enriching to have relationships with those that differ from us in some ways, the overwhelming likelihood is that we become closest to those that are most like us.

So to your question, I say look to form bonds with co-workers who are similar to you and talk about those similarities, not about the job. This does mean you will not be bonding equally with everyone, because the only commonality you will ALL have is the job!

While it can be convenient and commonplace to vent about your frustrations on the job with your coworkers, it does set up a slippery slope to begin gossiping about the boss, the new hire, or why Joe has been spending so much time in Susan’s office lately.

If you need someone to vent to about frustrations on the job (and who doesn’t?), look to your non-work friends or relationship partner for that. Together you can then bond over similar feelings of frustrations with your respective jobs without getting caught up in the content and drama of who did what to whom. You can also remind each other about good steps to take to minimize your own frustrations.

It is a way to get closer to the people who are already in your life while safeguarding your attempts at getting closer with coworkers.

Ultimately, as I often say, first decide what your long-term goal is; how do you want your life and, in this case, your work environment to be? Then work backwards. Only with knowing how you want to end up can you take the necessary and proper steps to get there.

“Frankly Speaking” is a weekly segment on this blog that provides an opportunity for my readers to ask questions aimed at better understanding themselves, others, or their relationship with others. Each week I will select one or more of those questions to answer here. As you can see, the askers of those questions remain anonymous.

To submit a potential question for future installments, the only thing that I ask is that you first become a fan of my Facebook page. “Like” my page, and then send me a private message with your question(s). Until next week!

 

 

 

 

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