A Bossy Friend

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By Jacqueline Foley

Confiding/getting too personal

Just as you want to avoid asking too much of your friend, you also need to make sure you're not too personal when confiding details of your own life. "It's one thing to want to get something off your chest," says Karen Mallet, cofounder of the Civility Group, one of Canada's most well-known etiquette organizations. "It's another to unload inappropriate information."

We can become so familiar with some friends, Mallet says, that we feel we can say anything to them -- and don't stop to consider how they'll feel about being on the receiving end. For example, a friend may be open to hearing about your marital problems, but not the intimate details of your troubled sex life. Or she may listen to the reasons why you are angry with a mutual friend, but tune out when you begin to rant about what a terrible person that individual is. "Share only the details you need to in order to feel better," says Mallet.

Offering advice/bossing

Of course a good friend will offer advice when a pal is in a jam; after all, what are friends for? And naturally, if you intend to be supportive you will make suggestions you hope will be helpful.

"It's when you get attached to her taking your advice that you cross the line," says Zimmerman. "Advice is really just an opinion. If you start to push it, then you are being bossy." Let's say you have a friend who is debating whether to change jobs. You might describe how you made a similar decision to switch jobs two years ago. But if you start pressuring her to take the new job because you think that's best for her, then you're telling her how to live her life.

Asking a favour/exploiting the friendship

When you ask a favour of a pal, it's your approach that really matters: are you truly asking a favour or making a demand?

"If you ask your friend to babysit so you can attend an appointment, but make it clear that she can say no if it's inconvenient for her, that's asking a favour," says Zimmerman. On the other hand, "If you tell her that you need her to do this because you have no alternatives, then you're exploiting the friendship." By not giving your friend an out, you're thinking only about your own needs and not putting yourself in her shoes.



 

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