The Dreaded Friend Critique...Overheard!

The Dreaded Friend Critique. I just (over)heard one being given to someone here in the coffee shop. Interestingly, it was quite similiar to some friend critiques I've receieved over the years, so I listened closely.

The DFC usually begins as a concerned sounding friend criticizing some behavior. In this case, person B let person A know that they behave arrogantly. It began as a concerned, selfless sort of thing, but ended in rising anger and leaving the coffee shop.

I obtained two peices of wisdom from observing this. First, that the arrogance of this person stems from the fact that they are quite self-interested and that this drives the topic of conversation. Person A uses his friends as sounding boards and mirrors. He isn't really interested in them, per se. The second piece of wisdom is that person B made the mistake of becoming agitated by this behavior. He failed to love his friend, warts and all.

There is some more wisdom here. It is impossible to criticize when you're even a little angry. Just listening to the conversation, as civil as it was, made my stomache turn. Now, perhaps this was the anxiety of recognition, but I think it was more that I was sensing person B's hostility. It also begs the question: why do people hang out and have friends? What is their motivation? Is it a simple "safety in numbers" sort of instinct?

I am tempted to say that the most serious problems occur when there is no meaningful reason behind the relationship. There is neither great love nor is there great practical forces brining the people together. If it is just a basic, vague instinct to have friends, people to hang out with to avoid feeling lonely, then you are skating on thin ice! The slightest difficulty will cause problems!

Once you become interested in other people's welfare, you can become interested in their interests and needs. At that point you can shape your conversation into a pleasent combination of what will nourish your needs and theirs. Some are born with this skill, but for others it must be learned.

The failure I observed was simply that person A is not aware of person B's needs. Person B is only aware that his own needs are not being satisfied, and opted for direct confrontation rather than modifying communication to get what he needs. In that particular instance, one modification of the conversation would be to ask lots of questions. People like person A find "what do you think?" sorts of questions absolutely irresistable. The English language is flexible enough that by simply prepending "what do you think..." in front of statements about other people's feelings (for example) Person A would not be able to ignore it.

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