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When feelings are hurt.

This has been an interesting week. A week in which I heard Anne repeatedly intervening and coaching her female colleagues who had experienced hurt feelings.

Two conversations, in particular, stand out. One with a dear friend and the other with an admired colleague.

Anne's friend, we'll call her Mary, got her feelings hurt when she was trying to tell her friend Iris the story of her Milestone Birthday Party. Mary had mixed feelings about entering a new decade and she was very touched to have been honored with a party!

Mary started by identifying the restaurant where the event had been held. Iris cut her off and launched into explaining that she too had been to that restaurant and what a wonderful experience it had been and blah, blah, blah ...

Mary was stunned into silence. Here she was trying to share a wonderful moment with her friend and Iris wasn't even listening. "To this day," declared Mary "Iris still doesn't know anything about my birthday - not who was there, what gifts I received ..."

This situation arose because Mary was expecting Iris to rejoice in her good fortune, acknowledge and appreciate her birthday experience. Mary is a relater and, while she wouldn't normally seek the spotlight, she wanted to share her appreciation for those who had honored her. Iris is a Socializer who habitually turns every conversation to herself without realizing how hurtful that is to her friend.

Anne began with asking permission before providing feedback or coaching. "Are you open to hearing some feedback from me?" Anne asked. When Mary nodded her consent, she continued, "Mary, it's unlikely that Iris will change unless you speak up. Iris' preferred mode of Socializer leads to her self-interested behavior; it is not malicious or intended to hurt. The fact is you are hurt and you have two options:

  1. "Remain silent. Maybe even extract yourself from your friendship with Iris. In my experience, people rarely change their behavior spontaneously or apologize without being aware of the problem."

  2. "Tell Iris. Keep it simple. Begin the conversation with "I feel hurt when you interrupt me and interject a story about you." Then continue with what you would prefer, "Iris, I would appreciate being allowed to finish my story before you tell yours."

"Having been vulnerable and telling Iris about the impact she has on you, you will be rewarded with one of two outcomes:

  • "Iris will show empathy, apologize, ask forgiveness, and commit to changing her behavior (something you will need to help her with), or

  • "Iris will deny her behavior and/or turn the conversation around so she is the wounded one, and/or not accept that she is being asked to change her accommodate your feelings.

"Either way, you will know what to do."

Will Mary and Iris navigate the quagmire or will their friendship be torn apart? What do you think the outcome will be? Let us know!

Next week I will tell you about the other scenario!


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