Turn Selfish Friends Into a Lasting One

Selfish friends often end up being ex-friend because you let them walk all over you until it gets too much.

We've all had them. The friend who seems to take up more time and energy than anyone else. The one who is demanding, needy and always has to be the centre of attention. The good news is that in most cases you have the power to put your friendship back on track.

Here are some tips on how to turn a selfish friend into a lasting one.

The Power of Silence

Silence can be powerful tool; try using it when someone is expecting your usual "I'll do it" response, and while you are at it why not turn the volume down on your usual good listening behaviour? Cut out the normal and expected listening comments - "Mmmm", "Yes", "I see", "Really?" - and listening body language of nods and smiles. Make the other person do some of the hard work for once.

Buy Time

Selfish friends tend to put you on the spot and expect an answer immediately. Get into the habit of saying, "I'll think about it and let you know tomorrow." If someone is used to you acquiescing, not giving them an answer right away allows you - not them - to set the agenda. Give specific time when you'll get back to them and always keep your word.

Get your "No" in Quickly

This takes practice. As soon as your selfish friend asks you to do something, say "No" as quickly and as lightly as you can. Remember, no excuses, justification or padding! There may be shocked silence, but if you try to keep it light ("I know, isn't it terrible, I never say 'No', do I?), it can take the sting out of the rejection. If you feel simply awful, you can always change your mind ("Did I just say 'No'? I didn't really mean it. Of course, I'll help you out"). Even if you have given in, you've done it in a way that gives a powerful signal that you won't always say yes.

Don't "own" the Problem

As selfish friends are great at roping you into their crises, you need to recognize when you become a victim of their drama. Ask yourself: "What's this got to do with me?", "Why have I bought into this and why am I getting deeper in?" Listen sympathetically for a brief while and make it clear that you can't get involved.


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