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What to tell someone who gets him/herself into trouble and complains?


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Since friendships are relationships, and this is more about conflict, I figured this could go in this forum...


Say a friend calls you up complaining and angry about something that just happened, that was their own fault. Say they mouthed off to someone and that person let the air out of their tires, and they call you up complaining about "woe is me". Or say that person's boss told them to do something, your friend blatantly disregards it and gets written up, then calls you to complain about how nasty their boss is.


How would you handle this? Normally, I would say "Well why did you do X thing in the first place and not think there'd be repercussions", but by my experience, that upsets the person even more, because it appears you're against them as well. Also by my experience, if you just stay on middle ground and don't agree or disagree, they think you don't care because you're not sharing their aggravation. But what would the person expect you to say..."You're so right, why is everyone a jerk to you"? I wouldn't think that would be right, either.


So what would you say to a friend in a situation like this?

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I am in those types of situations often. What I usually do is just listen and let the person vent- and I don't say much at all. When I do say something it is very general like "Sorry to hear that you are in this situation" or "Yikes- that sounds like a mess/stressful"-which implies no particular fault in either direction.


If the person comes right out and asks "Was I wrong?" I just say "Well you both made some mistakes and next time around this kind of thing can probably be prevented"[/i]

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That makes sense. But how do you get the person to see that their own behavior is causing these constant issues they're having, which is causing THEM grief, which is causing YOU grief for constantly having to listen to them gripe about things they keep getting themselves into? EDIT: Sorry - AND, if you're saying "You both made some mistakes", when in the situation, your friend/SO/whatever was really the only one at fault, isn't that being dishonest?


And to add to that, what if your reaction isn't strong enough - like you're just listening, try to stay neutral and say "that sucks", and then they come at you with something like "Forget it, you obviously don't care"?

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which is causing YOU grief for constantly having to listen to them gripe about things they keep getting themselves into?


I guess in my case I just don't let it cause me grief. I'm brief and I stop answering the calls after a while.


You can note to them that you see a pattern: "You seem to get into these situations often"


in the situation, your friend/SO/whatever was really the only one at fault,


Then I would say: "Honestly, I know you probably don't want to hear this, but I don't think you made the best choices in this situation"


You are likely not going to change their behavior so don't try to save them. They will just soak up your energy like an emotional sponge and leave you feeling crappy, and drag you down with them. Don't try to convert or save people. It rarely works. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. I learned that the hard way after several years of trying to counsel various family members who always manage to get themselves in to stupid situations due to immaturity, impulsivity, and lack of self-control.

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I'm pretty blunt when it comes to things like this with friends... Although I strive to be a good listener and be comforting/supportive when my friends have problems, I choose the tough love approach during the times when it's clearly them causing their issues...


I personally let them know that it's their fault... I know it's mean, but if it's reoccuring, it needs to be fixed. Sugar coating things and "comforting" them when it's something clearly their fault is just going to prolong their problem even longer... I know it sounds mean, but hey, I think it's meaner if you let them continue the same behavior and keep having to be upset all their lives when it's something they are causing themselves and have control of fixing...

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I'm usually like that too, but I usually get a very, very negative response. One person I knew would either hang up on me or tell me to F off after I'd say "Well how come you did X thing that resulted in you getting in trouble?". Fortunately, I have some friends who appreciate honesty.

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I usually try to listen first and let them vent, i.e. give them the opportunity to live through their emotions. However as soon as they are a bit calmer I am stating my opinion honestly. You can be honest yet compassionate at the same time. If they try to argue with me at that point, I drop it and and the conversation, but probably will come back to it at a later time point.

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I have little tolerance for this. I'm a good listener, so I will let them get everything out, but in a situation like this, I just tell them it's their fault, then break it down logically for them(tell them where and how they undeniably went wrong). I don't bother with it after that point, especially if it's a recurring thing. I bring negative consequences on myself all the time as a result of being absent minded or irresponsible, but I know and accept my role..these people need to grow up and face facts too.

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I don't give my advice unless they're actually asking. If they're venting that's one thing, but if they're actually asking for my opinion, then I'll tell them. I had the exact same situation happen yesterday with a school mate. They asked me, is it them? Yes, it is. Why is it, that THEY always have the SAME problems, and they're always in altercations with people and disputes? They think they've had a bout of bad luck, when in reality it's because they're combative, rude and think everyone's against them. You can't change someone's attitude, and usually these people need their attitude readjusted. These people can't take a step back and look at themselves. And I should know! I WAS this person a few years ago and I didn't like who I was turning into, neither did my friends or my family. You know what, for me to change.. I had to hear some pretty harsh things from people, even my own boyfriend, and I was bitter for a while but it wasn't just 'one' person telling me I was that 'way'... it was a few people. Coincidence? I think not. I think my friends and family being up front with me saved my life, to be honest.


When your friends stop calling you out on your crap, I think that's when you're in a really bad place, and when your friends stop becoming your friends.

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Sometimes, these people know secretly inside and just want to vent, so I just nod my head and say neutral things. But if they start giving attitude and want me to agree with them, then i put my foot down. In the past, I was more meek in these friends and stayed with them, all the while feeling irritated and angry inside. Now, I realize a pattern - people who keep doing this behavior will continue this behavior, regardless of what you say. They just want an inanimate thing to listen and agree with them, not a real friend who will give it to them straight. You need to learn to weed these people out because they are not real friends, they're people looking for followers to go along with their thinking.

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Can you elaborate on this? When do you come back to it and under what circumstances?


My friends all know me as the 'action girl', i.e. if there is a problem and you want a solution I am the one they contact, I am not really the best person to get in touch when you simply want to vent. But of course everyone needs to vent at certain times. In this case I just listen, but I don't let it drag on for too long. Either we change the subject or we decide to communicate at a later time. I don't really believe in complaining about a situation, but not taking any measure to either change something about it, or to change your attitude about it.


If a friend is constantly complaining about the same thing to me, but was not open to a suggestions I wait till we communicate again and that person is in a calmer/ more stable/ more receptive frame of mind. I will simply ask them if they have found a solution to the problem that they were venting about. If they have found a solution, no need to discuss it any further. If it is still something that is bugging them, or if I have the impression that they just dropped it out of their minds I'll most likely will make a suggestion how to handle a similar situation in the future.


Seymore, does that answer your question?

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I ask them, if they are just venting or if they are hoping for a solution. Or I tell them that releasing your frustration can be healthy, but if you are not willing to look for a solution/ a change you are essentially agreeing to the situation and thus have no right to continue to complain about it. I equally say, listen I don't think you are in the mood right now to look at things with an unbiased mind, why don't we talk about this later. I'm really a very honest/ direct person and people know that about me. Since I apply the same kind of standards/expectations to my own behavior, people are quite receptive usually when I say these things

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