Picture this:

You’re sitting in a delightful, independently owned coffee/tea shop. You have a lovely English Breakfast in front of you, your friend joins you with a mocha java. You are friends even thought she prefers coffee to tea…

Outside of your beverage differences, you like this person. You enjoy the conversations about books and movies. You also talk about real life things.

After book chat, your friend starts to complain about her husband. She tells you her point of view about what transpired the night before. As you are listening, you begin to wonder about what the husband was thinking. You wish you could hear both points of view, because you think the husband may have had a valid point, and that your friend might be the one in the wrong.

Do you point out to your friend that her thinking might be a little off? Do you role play the husband’s perspective? Do you force her to look at the other side of the coin?

Or

Do you just sit silently and nod in agreement as to what your friend is saying?

I understand both sides of this: I get that sometimes a friends just needs to vent. I also get that sometimes the friend is just plain wrong about something and needs to see it from another light.

What do you do?

What makes the determination of how you respond to your friend in situations like this?

Discuss

67 thoughts on “Reflect it Back

  1. I am frequently in this situation with my daughter. Before she launches into her monologue, I ask what she wants: advice or some to listen. Usually she just wants a sounding board and she will wrap back around to the right conclusion. Sometimes she wants advice. I have tapped back on my advice-giving these days and usually ask before proceeding. People can be awful touchy…

    Liked by 10 people

  2. I get in a scenario like this a lot with my sister. I have learned with her to ask questions like these…. do you want my input? Do you just want to vent or do you want my opinion on if I think his actions were warranted? I have some thoughts, do you want to hear them?

    You see, most of the time she just wants to vent. She knows her husband is a great guy, and he’s just annoying her these days as he tries to figure out his new job … being retired. He’s under foot now that he’s home and her frustration level has changed. She is someone who needs a schedule and who must be doing something at all times. He’s not that way. So right now he’s driving her crazy.they’ll work it out. But in the beginning his being home more often just disrupted her normal way of life.

    I think we listen first, feel the vibe, and then ask if she wants to hear your point of view. If she says yes then go for it.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I have a sister and lately we both like to vent. Other than that we are pretty much opposites. She never took my advice when I gave it and I’m tired of hearing hers. Then again, now a lot of time has passed and our roles are reversed to the point that possibly she finally took my advice and now is trying to give it back to me!

      Anyway, now that Mom has passed Sis is trying to justify not seeing Mom for a long time and not coming to support me when I asked her more than once. She says she can deal with that guilt, though I’m not so sure. Of course I can easily reply that I have no guilt whatsoever!

      My ex-husband and I played opposite to your sister and her husband when we retired. Again, he didn’t like to hear and thus didn’t take whatever advice I gave him. On the other hand, I had no problem finding things I liked to do to keep myself busy when I wanted and also felt no guilt at the times I just sat like a slug and vegged out. Usually during those times my mind was still engaged in some way, though admittedly sometimes there was no value, even to me, in the way I filled my time on those occasions.

      As far as presenting another viewpoint or playing devil’s advocate I have no problem in venturing out with whatever I think is appropriate, but I do that only once, and willingly suffer whatever consequences may be forthcoming in response. I guess that’s a way that I appreciate my own value even if/when the other person doesn’t. In isolation, I guess now especially I have to get my strokes however I can find them!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’d say yes. But I’d still ask first. Because someone can think they are ready to talk or hear another point of view and then discover they aren’t. And then you can at least say oh…I thought you wanted to hear another opinion.
    I think you always take a risk when opening up. But once you have asked and they said yes, then they can’t say you intruded.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. Seems if you know this person pretty well you also know how responsive they will be to input or simply want an open ear to listen. That said if this was just a short term acquaintance I wouldn’t put in my opinion. Likewise if you are aware this is a person who believes themselves to frequently be right and the one always being wronged will pointing out the other side make any difference?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Who cares? I value my opinion and if the recipient doesn’t I have no problem with them telling me so! Most of my friends, even some of the newer ones, know this about me. Occasionally I will try to phrase things nicely, especially if I’m concerned about something in my friend’s life where they don’t seem to be.

      Like

  5. I think you can gently pose the other view point as a question. “Do you think that he was thinking . . . ” As a question, it doesn’t come across like you’ve taken sides or that you are criticizing her point of view. Of course, you can’t always know how a person would respond. It could still become an explosive situation

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  6. I like how you say, “you’re friends even though she prefers coffee over tea.” That made me laugh.

    It would depend on how close you are to the friend. I would definitely feel at ease encouraging both of my good friends to look at the other side and playing a role. In fact, my best friend and I did this about our children the other day in the car.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Interesting conundrum. I blogged my way through the entire disintegration of my first marriage on another site, and naturally, pretty much everybody was on my side. But a few people did mention that, if the ex were blogging, mostly everybody would be on hers. It just goes to show that there are always two sides to every story.

    I’d keep that in mind and try to play devil’s advocate with my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I think it depends on how close your relationship is. I do know I would vent to my brother about my son’s teacher or something like that and he’d tell me awful advice how I was a terrible parent. It can go really wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I was in this situation today with a good friend. I think I try to get the balance out f letting her get it out of her system and vent for a while but then gently asking a question about what might be going on for the husband. I guess I don’t think I’d be a very supportive friend if I never challenged her viewpoint?

    Liked by 3 people

  10. What I’ve started doing with EVERYONE is saying, “Are you open to another opinion/some advice?” And if the answer is yes, then I say what I think. No one has ever said no they’re not open.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Oh this is rich, I was the coffee loving friend in this scenario just the other day, and my sister was you! She’s a wise old bird, she takes on the persona of a Priest when I get my panties in a wad, and just nods until I practically put her to sleep! She’s good at peppering me with questions, helping me to come up with my own solutions, ones that are more considerate to Larry or whoever has my goat! Then she drags me out of the house, over to the coast, for chocolate or antiquing, both of which are restorative practices! I’m lucky to have such a person in my life, she’s an absolute angel, and I’d be lost without her. As usual, I absolutely love your posts LA, hugs, C

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I’ve learned let them vent. Nod knowingly but give no opinion because one way or another it will come back to bite you , you know where. I must say though this keeping my mouth shut is too hard. Now the worst thing is if it isn’t a venting but you asked directly ‘What do you think?’Sometimes there is no right answer

    Liked by 2 people

  13. What a difficult situation! As I’m thinking it though, it depends on the level of emotions one has when conveying their problem. I’d consider that first. If their emotions are moderate, neither too flared not too aggrieved, I’d tell them right then to look at it differently, but if the emotions are skew, I’d first help them overcome it by siding with them and offering my comfort and then later, in a different lively chat, tell them my sincere opinion. Just thinking so. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I know people who – like you – want me to let them know if they’re being an ass, but I know way more who expect me to be their friend and just listen, unless (or until) they tell me they want more. I’ve always found that people will give you cues to let you know which group they fall in to – the tricky bit is keeping your own ego quiet so you can hear them.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. So true. Sometimes my “I know what’s right” thoughts are so noisy, I can barely hear a thing. I keep practising though, it’s all we can do.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. For me it would depend on the level of our friendship. A deeper connection to a friend would allow me the freedom to feel okay in sharing my thoughts, even if it isn’t what she wants to hear. But in other friendships, I might just listen and not say anything.

    Liked by 3 people

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