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Friendship: Getting Along With Others

By Andrew Burgon / phoenix@projectfellowship.com
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October 22, 2013


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Sometimes it Ain’t Easy Getting Along With Others Especially Those Who Rub Us the Wrong Way 😉

 
Some time ago a friend of mine asked me, “How do I get along with people that are not easy to get along with?” He liked to play football and was a member of a team and one of the guys bothered him. There are a number of things you can do when dealing with people who are difficult to get along with. These include bending like a reed in the wind, neutralizing their annoying behavior and having a heart-to-heart chat.

Bending Like a Reed in the Wind

In part, I guess it’s the way I am that helps me get along well with most people. In general, I’m very tolerant, respectful and amazingly uncritical. I’m also very easy going. If the house was on fire I’d finish reading the chapter of a book first then leave!

I am very much aware and humbled by my own quirks and flaws and that helps me in many cases to see past the quirks of others. If someone says something that annoys me I will either let it pass or gently correct the person. I’ve had to work on the latter by making a strong mental note to be gentle but firm with people who say things that are uncalled for or just plain rude.

I rarely allow myself to react to a situation I’m angry about without a 24 hour cool down period. I will never send a person an angry text message. If I’m going to say something I’ll do it face-to-face. I try not to make a big deal of anything. I always keep in mind that a soft answer turns away wroth.

Having said that if you happen to live with someone who you’re having a personality clash with it’s much harder to be that reed in the wind. In this case it might help to keep the good qualities of this person and the things you genuinely appreciate about them in the forefront of your mind.

Being the way I am makes it difficult to have an altercation with someone. Sometimes we have to make adjustments and allowances for other people and I hope that people who find me a bit odd or difficult to be with will do the same for me.

Neutralizing Their Behavior

I also neutralize the unpleasant side of some of my friends. One of my friends is amazingly uptight. In several situations, from watching movies to eating out, he has gotten uptight and upset. I deal with him in a cautious way. I am very thoughtful concerning this friendship and am willing to do so because he has proven himself a good friend.

I only invite him to movies I know he will definitely like. I also ask him what movies is he looking forward to seeing. I will then invite him out to go and see one of those movies with me. He can be very critical of movies. Take him to see a movie he thought was awful and you won’t hear the last of it.

We only ever ended up playing a board game once together. After that experience I knew that if I ever intended on playing a game with him again I’d have to make sure he had time to check out the manual beforehand. Also only play a game with him that I can give him a solid explanation of at the beginning. If you don’t he will say again and again he wasn’t told so and so and he may spit the dummy.

Another friend of mine can be a bit on the abrupt side at times. I make mental notes of what causes it and avoid doing those things. For example, I don’t ask him another question before he finishes answering my original question completely. Half way through the game I don’t solicit advice or offer advice to someone otherwise you’ll get his very serious, “Aren’t we beyond that now?” I try not to appear clueless later on in the game. Other players will try to help me and that may annoy him. Whenever possible, I’ll have a good read of the game manual beforehand.

I have also neutralized the not so pleasant side of certain teachers in the past, too. We had an obnoxious uptight employee working for us when I was a manager. With him I used foresight, doing things ahead of time that I knew would make a difference and help make the job of managing him easier. Whenever you have high maintenance employees you’ve got to be mindful of the way they are and respond appropriately in advance.

Naturally, you could request someone not to do something that is annoying you. At a recent party one of my friends, Victor, was waving his hands too close during a conversation to another friend’s face. My friend politely asked him, “Please don’t wave your hands so close to my face.” He followed this up with another request a while later. “Please don’t speak so loudly.” Victor is partially deaf so he often speaks loudly. I have a habit of ignoring people’s quirks but I do wish I had of used polite requests more in the past.

Openly Discuss What’s Troubling You

When friends become roommates there can be unpleasant surprises in store for one or both of them.

A roommate might be sloppy leaving dirty glasses all over the house and unwashed dishes in the sink. He might have body odor issues that’s embarrassing when friends are over. You might end up having heated arguments over things.

Fortunately, there are subtle ways of dealing with some of these problems but sometimes sitting down and talking openly about what’s bothering you is necessary especially if crashing into the reef is imminent.

Set Boundaries and Make Things Crystal Clear

Tanya and Michelle have been talking about working on a new fashion blog together. They’ve already put many hours into researching and discussing their proposed blog.

Unfortunately, Tanya is having second thoughts about partnering up with Michelle but she feels they are in too deep now to turn back. The problem is Michelle has a stubborn streak a mile wide and can be a little opinionated and domineering at times. The fact that Michelle shot down two of her ideas with a bazooka in front of their friends is still ringing in her ears.

She decides to go ahead with it but sits down with Michelle to set ‘freedom and flexibility’ boundaries and make sure certain things are crystal clear. These include the need for compromise, the freedom to try out new ideas she likes and to have creative and artistic freedom.

Since they are both going to be spending a lot of time on the project they agree to write a kind of contract that they will adhere to.

Reduce the Amount of Time You Spend With the Person

Some people are simply too much in high dosages. You might find though that you get along with them just fine if you see them only one time a week.

Don’t Bother With Them

This needs no introduction! Peace of mind, harmony and enjoying the time you spend with friends is the goal that some people stand in the way of. In some cases it’s only foolishness to hang around people who are in the habit of causing offense. Enough said. (Bet you weren’t expecting me to say that!)

Difficult Situations

Let’s have a look at some incidents that have happened in my life. If you have any ideas on how to deal with such situations please share them with us. Alternatively, if you are currently in a predicament where you have to deal with someone who is unpleasant you may like to share it with us and we might be able to think of a way to deal with it.

Case A – A Game Gone Wrong

I was playing a board game over at a friends place. Toward the end of the game a heated argument broke out. In the argument, Chad was coming across as obnoxiously stubborn, immature and disrespectful. He was stuck in the “I’m not listening” groove and the rum was making that groove so slippery it would have been hard for him to get out of it.

My other friend, Alex, started out okay. He did consult the other players over a particular rule but the manual was unclear and we really weren’t sure how to answer. Chad threw down a “stubbornness & I’m not listening” card. Alex threw down an “insistent listen and answer my question RIGHT NOW bulldozer card.” The only thing those two cards create is intense frustration, sparks and a fire.

Both of them were throwing more logs on the fire and for a moment there was rage in Alex’s voice. They were both getting no where and making two other people very uncomfortable. The other problem with the “insistent card” is that some players may not dare come to your aid thinking you might palm them off or get stuck in the crossfire.

The night was somehow a little tainted, tarnished and spoiled. In fact, Alex and I never saw Chad again. The sad thing is the illusive rule was definitely not worth all the commotion.

What could of been done to neutralize the incident? The “appeal to other player’s” card can be a good move but didn’t work in this case. By appealing to other players I might gain their support and ‘indirectly’ get the chance to explain to Chad my thoughts on the matter. If another player whose gaming cred is high makes a logical suggestion others may just go with it.

I might have also requested a break to give me time to check the rules if I was having trouble locating a particular rule or if I needed time to gather my thoughts. In the past, gamers I’ve played with have checked a forum on-line to see what the answer was to a particular question.

A break while I’m looking for the answer might also help Alex get into a more receptive mood and help him calm down. In fact, I could have suggested to Alex to accompany me to the convenience store to get some drinks in order to give him a breather and talk to him about the situation alone.

Simply dropping the issue is an option as well. If I’m ever with Chad again I’ll certainly think twice before bringing a bottle of alcohol to an event.

Case B – The Unbelievably Talkative Player

One of my friends can’t stop talking. I invited him over one time to play a board game and he managed to talk for four or five solid hours. Besides talking about the game he was also thinking out loud and giving a running commentary. He often didn’t know when it was his turn because he was so busy talking.

Alas, he criticized the game on and off for an hour and a half before the end of the game. He grew impatient with it and tried to get us to play faster and in the end said, “Oh well. I got a little drunk so it’s not a complete loss.” As if our company and my friend’s infinite patience at telling him all the rules meant nothing. That was a little too much for me.

I did invite him to another game after that but he talked so much I couldn’t concentrate.

In hindsight, I feel I should have been a little firm with him and said a few things during the game like, “Trevor, please give me a moment to think.” “Please don’t criticize the game anymore.” “Don’t force us to go any faster. We like a leisurely game. I suggest you go and meet up with your girlfriend now.” His girlfriend was part of the reason why he wanted the game to end quickly.

I did try the first one during the second game we played together and it did help a little. Alas, his constant chatter was exasperating not only for me but for the other players as well in both games. I think it’s best not to invite him to a serious game again though I might invite him to a board games party.

Case C – Cold Shouldered, Stuck Up Classmates

I remember three young ladies in the same class as me many years ago. They gave me the strong impression they disliked me. It was unpleasant especially since there were only eight students in the class and we all sat close together!

I’m guessing it was because I gave a speech about my Christian faith. We all had to give one speech about something and at that time in my life I was really into Christianity. I didn’t bible bash anyone. I simply talked about my Christian lifestyle and beliefs. It was from that point things noticeably got worse. Being an awkward young man that stammered may have been another reason.

Thinking about it I wish I had of done something to rectify the situation. In hindsight, I would have talked to the two other ladies in the class who I got along with okay and asked them if they knew why the three ladies didn’t like me. I would have asked two or three friends how to deal with the situation. In particular, what I should say to them and how I should say it.

I would have then talked to them individually. I would of said something like, “Hey, Niki, I just want to say that I hope we can get along well with each other in class. If my speech about my Christian faith is getting in the way of this then please note I have no intention of bringing up the subject again.”

I would of then been alert for any opportunities that would help me change their attitude towards me. Greeting them nicely in the morning the same way I greet everyone else. Share a cake with the class one day. Offer them help when they need it. In short, make it difficult for them not to like me. 😉 I wouldn’t overdo it though.

Any ideas on how to deal with these three situations or just general tips on getting along with others?

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