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How You Deal Is A Deal Breaker

| Friendly | September 21, 2016

(I am promoted to supervisor over a friend of many years. Things start to go downhill between us when they request some time off, and I have to refuse them because we are too busy; nobody is allowed to take time off. They give me the cold shoulder treatment – I assume it is because I said no – but when I finally end it, they admit it was because of an “insensitive comment” I had made regarding their ability to get to work. To clarify, they have no difficulty getting to work, and I offer them an alternative break that would still give them the time off they need without hurting the rest of the team as badly.)

Friend: “The comment you made at the end of our conversation was really insensitive.”

Me: “I’m sorry; that wasn’t my intent at all. I can see how you might mistake my intention, and I apologize.”

Friend: “Okay.”

Me: “Why didn’t you just tell me? It was really difficult to work with you this week because you weren’t communicating with me. It actually really affected my ability to focus.”

Friend: “That’s just how I deal with things when I’m upset. I distance myself.”

Me: “Okay, I can understand that, but what I’m saying is that I wish you had just said something to me. It really hurts me to know you were hurt by something I did and instead of confronting me about my mistake, you intentionally shut me out. I just feel like I accidentally hurt you and then you intentionally hurt me in return.”

Friend: “Like I said, that’s just how I deal with things.”

Me: “But were you dealing with it? It’s been a week and you still didn’t approach me about it.”

Friend: “I was going to.”

Me: “When?”

Friend: *silence*

Me: *silence*

Friend: “Look, this is just what I do to deal with things.”

Me: “Okay, but we are at work. This is a really small, professional environment. I’m not sure this was handled as well as it could be, and I know it had a negative effect on productivity. I think you may want to consider finding a more efficient way of handling things like this in the workplace.”

Friend: “The thing is, this is just how I deal with things.”

Me: “And what I am saying is that there is no room for that here. You need to be more upfront with people if you are bothered, and you need to deal with these things in a way that doesn’t affect those around you.”

Friend: “That’s why I distance myself. It’s how I deal.”

(You can imagine that I never received an apology, and the behaviour never changed despite several other similar conversations from myself, a second supervisor, and the boss….They continued to burn bridges with other people. We are no longer friends.)

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