Arguments With Friends

2011/07/05 in Relationships

Have you just had an argument with a friend, or feel angry enough to start one?


In the first part of this message I’ll discuss what you can do if the fight has already occurred. In the second half, I’ll offer some strategies for fighting fairly if you feel angry toward a friend.

Friends argue for a variety of reasons–conflicts over needs, values, desires, and just about anything else. In any close relationship such conflicts are normal. And when conflicts touch feelings such as fear, love, guilt, disappointment or whatever, they can easily explode into shouting and blaming.

The fight may then lead to a breakup in the friendship or at least a temporary alienation between you and your friend. What to do? First of all, is the friendship worth saving? If you say “no” then lay aside your hurt or angry feelings and invest energy in your other friends. But if you say “yes,” then consider this possibility. When your feelings have cooled a bit, say to your friend something like this: “Our friendship is very important to me. I hope it is to you, also. I’d like to talk about what’s keeping us apart.” Then wait for your friend’s response. Your friend may stay quiet, or continue to look angry or hurt. Whatever your friend’s reaction or response, the important thing is that you took the initiative to re-establish contact.

If your friend isn’t ready to discuss the matter, you might say, “I’ll call you in a couple of days. I hope we can talk then.”

When you’re ~’ing to restore a friendship after a fight, try’ not to get sidetracked into a rehash over who was right and who was wrong. Even if you feel your friend said hurtful things to you, suck in your pride and apologize for any hurtful remarks you made. Try to agree to work mutually on differences and not let them turn into resentments. II the issue that created tbe fight in the first place is important to you, bring it up again with the use of “I” statements that express how you feel or what you want or need. Avoid criticism or blaming.

This is also good advice when you’re angry with a friend. Speak directly with your friend about what’s bothering you. Friendship is most vulnerable when friends swallow their differences and irritations. In fact, the most explosive blow-ups happen when friends avoid talking in the hope that whatever the problem, it will go away. It seldom does.

Remembering three words can help you keep your discussion on track. They are attitude, focus, and delivery. The first is attitude. You’re angry with your friend. It’s OK to feel angry. Anger tells us that something’s wrong. Our rights are getting trampled or we’re being hurt. Anger may be telling us that we’re giving too much to the friendship without very much return. Anger is OK. when expressed appropriately, it can help to clarify and strengthen a friendship. But, keep a problem solving attitude rather than a punishing or blaming attitude.

The second word is focus. Focus on the main thing that distresses you–not two or three. If you don’t have your anger under control, you’re likely to throw in other grievances to strengthen your point.

The third word is delivery–how to express your concern to your friend. Rather than let your anger explode, tell your friend that you feel angry and why you feel angry. Use plenty of “I” messages and avoid “you” messages if possible. State clearly your feelings and what you need or want from your friend.

Even though you follow all the rules of effective communication, your friend may react defensively, perceiving your comments to be criticism. Don’t get caught up in your friend’s emotional reaction. Expect it, but don’t get caught up in it. Say clearly that because you value the friendship you’re bringing up the matter. If tears come either to you or your friend, let them come without explanation or apology. They are a symbol of caring, not weakness.

I hope you find these comments helpful. The fact that you’ve requested this message means you’ve taken an important step toward building and maintaining friendship. Thank you.

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