Faith Wood knows how to resolve conflict. Her years in front-line law enforcement taught her how to effectively de-escalate any situation to a successful conclusion. Faith will use her knowledge of conflict management to guide you through the often stressful experiences you may encounter in your personal or professional life. Her Conflict Coach column appears every two weeks.
Question: I’ve fallen out of love with my former best friend. It wasn’t a love affair but it feels like a breakup.
When we met, we were inseparable. We did everything together. Then I noticed how selfish she is, how willing she was to lie and take advantage of her friends, never making amends. I started avoiding her.
We stopped talking for a while and I thought she had moved on to another friend group. I was relieved – until recently when the memories on Facebook prompted her to call me out of the blue. She spoke as if nothing had happened.
This relationship doesn’t serve either of us. How do I put an end to it?
Answer: Removing someone from your inner circle can be a rough experience. Maybe one of the members isn’t behaving normally, or you can just tell that things have changed and they aren’t going back.
Once you know that it’s not just a situational change but something deeper, you need to decide to remove the person from your inner circle. But how do you do that without hurting feelings?
Sometimes, unfortunately, feelings will be hurt. But it’s in your best interest to be honest about the friendship and that it no longer serves you.
First, be present when breaking off a friendship. Schedule a time to meet on neutral ground, at a coffee shop or somewhere similar. Your friend deserves more than just a text message or an email.
If there’s no way you can get together, at least give them the courtesy of a phone call. But don’t get into details when attempting to schedule a meeting. Just say you’d like to meet. Now isn’t the time to get into why.
When you do meet or call, know exactly what you want to say. Be confident inwardly and outwardly, and clear about what you’d like to happen to the friendship – whether you want to cut off all contact or if you’d like the friendship to have different boundaries and expectations.
Be prepared to listen to your friend and entertain ideas you possibly hadn’t thought of.
But if you’re set on ending the friendship altogether, be clear about that and stick to your guns.
Honesty truly is the best policy when you’re dealing with ending a friendship or cooling it off for a bit. Approach your friend with love, if you’re able, because that will make the words you say kinder and gentler. State the facts – that the relationship has changed and that you’ve been thinking about what to do about it.
If you need to get into specifics (you very well might want to, and that’s okay), don’t do it from a blaming perspective. Turn things around so that you’re making a lot of “I” statements.
Be thoughtful and conscious of your friend’s feelings when talking about what went wrong. Be honest and talk about facts, but be ready for your friend to feel hurt and defensive. This is where kindness will pay off.
Still, stick to what your plan is for the friendship.
Finally, take some time to yourself, if needed, to mourn the loss of the friendship.
Troy Media columnist Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications. For interview requests, click here.
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