When life is busy (and isn’t it always?), There is a tendency to put our friendships on autopilot. A little cabotage here and there is fine, but in the long run, if we don’t approach these relationships intentionally, we can walk away or, worse, hurt our friend.
We asked experts to reveal the things we do – often inadvertently – that may not seem very important, but could sabotage your friendships. Below, they explain the sneaky behaviors to watch out for and what to do instead.
1. You give unsolicited advice when your friend just wants to let off steam.
When a friend is faced with a problem – say a disagreement with their partner or a feeling of unappreciated work – sometimes they’re looking for solutions and other times they just want a listening ear. While you may be well-meaning, giving advice when looking to let off steam can backfire and lead to more frustration.
âIf your friend asks you for advice, that’s one thing. But if you still volunteer, especially if you make your friend feel like you know what is the right thing to do for your friend, your friend may be sharing less and less with you.sociologist and friendship expert Jan Yager – author of “Friendgevity: Making and Keeping the Friends Who Enhance and Even Extend Your Life” – told HuffPost. “It can harm your friend not only because your friend may feel like you think you ‘know it all’ when there are circumstances or issues that you don’t fully understand, but it also takes away your friend’s mind. responsibility to solve its problems on theirs. “
Before telling them how to solve their problems, ask them clearly: do you want my opinion here? (Or, expressed in another way: âDo you want comfort or solutions?â)
âYou might be surprised if your friend responds, ‘Of course, thanks for the offer’ or ‘No, I just wanted to share what’s going on,'” Yager said.
2. You don’t ask about their life.
Your friend contacts you every now and then to see how your new job is going, if your anxiety has been okay lately, and what is going on with your family. You fill them out but rarely leave enough time in the conversation to ask how they have summer.
“One of the biggest complaints people have about friendships is feeling that a friend isn’t interested in them. Specifically, a friend who doesn’t ask them questions about themselves and their experiences can be a deal breaker, âsaid Anna Poss, a Chicago-based therapist. âIt leaves people feeling insecure and ignored. “
âA friend who doesn’t ask them questions about themselves and their experiences can be a deal breaker. It leaves people insecure and ignored.
– Anna Poss, Chicago-based therapist
To remedy this, start making a conscious commitment to make contact with your friend and bring the conversation back to them when you speak. If you’re struggling with this, Poss recommends making a goal of asking a number of questions before you talk to yourself again until the habit sets in.
3. You avoid confrontation at all costs.
Even the sweetest friendships sometimes hit a bump in the road. At some point, your friend is going to say something that hurts you or do something to upset you. When that happens, do you tell that person what bothered you? Or do you rather complain to your other friends?
“Too often, if a friend has wronged us, we avoid talking to them,” said Adam Smiley Poswolsky, workplace belonging expert and author of “Friendship in the Age of Loneliness.” “Instead, we’ll let off steam in our other friends on what’s going on. It might sound good in the short term, but it avoids the problem. “
The confrontation may seem tense or uncomfortable at the moment, but it doesn’t have to turn into a screaming match. These honest discussions are vital for the long-term health and closeness of the relationship. Plus, stifling your emotions only works for so long – those disgusting feelings are bound to creep in one way or another.
“Of course, take the time you need before approaching [your friend]”Poswolsky said.” But when you’re ready, reach out and have the conversation. True friendship is about fixing what isn’t working.
4. You impose your expectations on yourself on your friend.
You might have a lot in common with your friends, but that doesn’t mean you’ll always agree. You have different preferences, priorities, and points of view and that’s perfectly healthy. Resist the temptation to tell your friend how to live his life based on you would do.
âTrue friendship means fixing what isn’t working. “
– Adam Smiley Poswolsky, Workplace Belonging Expert and Author
âYour friends may want to live their lives differently from you,â said psychologist and friendship expert Marisa G. Franco. âAs a friend, you must guide them so that they live their values ââand not yours. So even if you think it’s a crazy decision for them to quit their jobs and move to Italy, support them because that’s what they want. ”
However, if you are worried that your friend is making a decision that could be rightfully damaging, you can voice your concerns.
“If you are offering feedback, make sure you can answer yes when you ask yourself: are my comments based on what is best for my friend, rather than I want for them? Franco added.
5. You become competitive when things are going well for them.
Life has treated your friend well lately: They got a promotion at work, paid off a large chunk of their student loans, and went on an Insta-worthy tropical vacation. You want to be happy with their success, but inside you’re bubbling with envy – and it is starting to show. When your friend mentions their new role or talks about the trip, you can’t help but brag about how well you are on your way to getting a huge raise as well, or marveling at luxury accommodations in your recent past. holidays. taken.
âIt’s good to consider what your friends are doing or accomplishing because it’s human nature,â Yager said. âBut you want to avoid being so competitive that you are labeled as a ‘unique’ person. Friends should encourage each other and be proud of each other’s accomplishments rather than jealous and envious.
âSome envy is normal; it even shows you what you value and what you might want for yourself, âYager continued. âBut you want to avoid blaming your friend for his accomplishments. ”
You can’t just get rid of your competitive streak in an instant, but you can reduce its intensity with practice. First, recognize and validate your own feelings; Remember that envy is something that all humans deal with from time to time. Do gratitude exercises to help you focus on the things you enjoy in your own life. Then, use envy as a motivator to improve the areas of your own life that you are unhappy with.
âChanneled in this way, the urge is actually a sort of adaptation; it’s a compass that can keep us on track, as long as we’re willing to listen, âpsychologist Miriam Kirmayer wrote in a blog post for Psychology Today.
6. You always wait your turn to speak instead of really listening.
Do you think about what you want to add to the conversation when you should be listening to what your friend is actually saying? Then you may need to hone your active listening skills.
âIt’s okay to be excited to share something with your friend, but as a habit it can cause tension in a relationship,â Poss said. âYour friend may be resentful that you are not paying them the special attention they are giving you. “
If they don’t feel heard, it can make them less likely to open up to you in the future. To improve your active listening skills, stay present (rather than formulating your answer in your head), avoid interruptions, summarize what has been said, and show your interest by asking follow-up questions.
Body language is also a key part of active listening. Turn to your friend as they speak, make eye contact, and nod occasionally.
âYou signal to your friend that you are listening to them and that you are paying attention,â Poss said. âPaying attention to your friends’ body language will also tell you how they are feeling and help you stay focused. “