Jump to content
Mental Support Community

Friend question

Recommended Posts

There is a friend from my support group who was laid off from her employer because of the bad economy. She had gotten the job originally about 10 years earlier because the daughter-in-law of the employer told her about the job and recommended her.

My friend knew some things that weren’t so good about the company and, in an attempt to get work at another company, volunteered this information. When she told us about it at the support group it was clear that she was just trying to get something for herself, but I wondered at the time “My God, don’t you see that they’ll not trust you at the new company if you are volunteering information about the old one?” Anyway, she did not get the new job.

Several months ago my friend told us that the friend that had gotten her the old job with her father-in-law was not returning her phone calls. She talked to a mutual friend to see if that person knew what was going on. The mutual friend called back and said that the … let’s call her Daughter-In-Law . . . said that she had heard what my support group friend had told the other company and that she didn’t appreciate it. She felt that my friend was stabbing her in the back, trying to take food off her children’s plates.

My friend was upset because she didn’t believe that she had done what she had, in fact, done. That of course was not her intention – she was thinking only of herself – but it was the effect.

So, OK, it’s not our job in the support group to give feedback about that kind of stuff. So I didn’t.

Now it gets kind of sticky. Karma, maybe, has intervened in a way. In addition to helping my friend get the job, the Daughter-In-Law helped her find a car many years ago. It was still working well, but my friend was in an accident and the car was totaled. My friend is very distressed about finding another one. She asked me to help her find one on the internet, which is what the Daughter-In-Law had done years ago. I know nothing about finding cars on the internet. I’m willing to help my friend to do it but I definitely do not want that “responsibility”.

Also, I’m wondering if the best thing that I could do for my friend, if she talks about the Daughter-In-Law again, would be to tell her that she told the support group that she had in fact done what the Daughter-In-Law said that she did. Again, she didn’t intend harm but that was the effect.

I’m not experienced with interpersonal relationships so I would appreciate any advice or input. I don’t want my friend to feel uncomfortable about coming back to the support group.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds like a tricky spot. Your friend has a few blind spots in her own behavior. Don't we all? Here's my question: Is it more important for you to help her with her troubles, or keep her troubles from impacting you? How well do you know this person?

She did betray the trust of the Daughter-In-Law and her previous company after what sounds like a fairly generous friendship. Perhaps worse yet, she's in a bit of denial about her own shortcomings there. Look, everyone makes mistakes. In my opinion, the best thing you can do for her as a friend is help her address these directly, but do so in a warm and comforting manner. At some point, she cared about her friend and her job, but after being laid off she felt bitter and defensive. Deep down, it must bother her that she behaved herself in that way, especially toward a generous friend.

Here's the real sticky part, though. She's asked you for help with her car. She confides in you a similar way. There's always the chance that she's got bad habits, and if you allow yourself to become responsible for her like her friend was, she may slight you down the road. Probably not intentionally, but does that matter? I think your reservations about the car reflect this understanding.

If you want to help her, knowing full well that she might reject your help, get defensive, or feel uncomfortable facing her own issues.. Well, I commend you! That's very compassionate, and there's also the chance that your honesty and willingness to support her will make for a strong, long term friendship and someone you can rely on to do the same for you in hard times. If you choose this path, approach her with kindness and understanding rather than judgement, but speak frankly about where you see she could improve. Hope for the best, and know that while it may not go so smoothly, you have tried your best at something exemplary.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Chameleon.

Somebody else has stepped up to help her with the car. I’m going to put a little distance between us for the time being. Get some more perspective if nothing else.

If the time comes where it seems again that mentioning her blind spot might be helpful to her, I’ll be careful. If I can’t say something from a place of kindness and understanding that I feel I can maintain during the conversation, then I won’t say anything. If she felt hurt then she probably wouldn’t take in my observations anyway, so they wouldn’t do her any good, I guess, and it would just hurt our relationship.

Thanks very much for your comments and sharing your experience.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If she felt hurt then she probably wouldn’t take in my observations anyway, so they wouldn’t do her any good, I guess, and it would just hurt our relationship.

Actually, I disagree with this. If she felt hurt, she wouldn't take in your observations right away and it might hurt your relationship for a while. But if you approach her with good intentions, I imagine that over time she would reflect on your advice and then be all the more grateful that someone was considerate of her best interests. Friendships are never without some turbulence.

If you were behaving inconsiderately, but didn't realize it, would you rather keep doing it indefinitely or have a friend give you a polite prod? If the topic does come up, start off easy and if you feel yourself getting heated just take a deep breath and remember that while you're trying to help, she's the only one who can choose to see it another way and it might take time.

If you decide to let it go, that's understandable. I have a few friends who are struggling, and it's never easy to know when it's appropriate to offer input. I also know that on my worst days, I'm quite stubborn and hard to reason with. Once I've calmed down, though, I usually respect more the people who were willing to call my crap. Have you had an experience like that?

Really, the tone of your messages suggest to me that you already know how to give constructive criticism in a polite manner. If it doesn't feel right to get involved, don't worry about it. She isn't your responsibility. But if you do feel like you ought to, have confidence in your ability to reach her without upsetting her greatly. Even if she is hurt by it, she'll hear you because you mean her well.

Anyway, probably more feedback than you were looking for! :)

Hope any of it is helpful.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Actually it’s NOT more feedback that I was looking for it. I really appreciate you taking the time. I used to function in what I’ll call “robot mode” interpersonally. Figure out the role or expectations that the situation called for and “just do it”. I’ve written about that in other places on this website so I won’t go into it here. I’m able to do things much differently now and probably have the right “equipment” out of hiding so to speak, but I don’t know the landscape so very well from lack of experience.

So, really, thanks for sharing your perspective and experience.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...