16 Jan Friend or Frog?
Agnes suffered a reprimand from her boss. Angry and embarrassed, she spent her lunch date with Lonnie blasting her unfair, unreasonable, mean, and spiteful boss. Lonnie felt her pain, encouraged a dessert, and reminded her of her wonderful qualities.
The next day she told Lonnie that she’d be late for something they had planned to do together, because her boss wanted her to work on a project with her. Lonnie said, “She just doesn’t quit, does she! Poor you with the boss from hell.”
Whoops. The voice of Agnes turned to ice and she snapped, “My boss is very good at what she does; I’m lucky to be doing this project with her. You don’t even know her.”
What just happened?
Lonnie says she knows better than to join the criticism when a friend vents about her spouse, or parent, or child, since the friend will recover from whatever caused the venting and then remember only the remarks of her traitorous friend! But a boss?
It seems that criticism of The Boss of Agnes can be seen as criticism of The Choices of Agnes. What kind of person is she if she stays in a job with someone so horrid?
What to do when your friend blasts a part of her life that you know is here to stay, at least for the nonce, when you want to be supportive but not trapped.
As is true in other areas of life, it’s a good idea to concentrate on the action and not on the actor. Criticizing only the behavior without commenting on the character, intent, motivation or hairstyle of the person can also help your friend to do this, which will probably lead to a more speedy recovery. If you label the offending action mean, hateful, spiteful, or unjust, the person committing these sins can much more easily move from foe to friend (albeit momentarily misguided….), and the actions can remain unacceptable, but now forgiven.
And you remain the wise friend who knows that even the fine people so (normally) revered by your friend can have a bad hair day.