A “Favor” That Hurts

Question: Dear Luise: I have a friend who sometimes changes our plans to suit her self. Then she calls it doing me a favor and pats her self on the back. The last one was about my taking her some distance to catch a plane. She thinks long drives are hard on me because she doesn’t like them herself. I’ve told her over and over again that I love long drives and see them as adventures. Well, now she has cancelled my taking her, which was “plan A”, in favor of “plan B” which involves another friend taking her. In the process that friend can see her house and they can go see the house her friend is building. I understand all of that. I know she has the right to change her mind. What I hate is her telling me that she did me a service and isn’t she wonderful to save me the trip? Frankly, no…it wasn’t a kindness. It was a disappointment. I tried to tell her that, but I didn’t get that she heard me. Her presentation felt slippery and dishonest, covert and manipulative. Anne

Answer: Dear Anne: You did your best to make it clear. There’s nothing you can do about not being heard. She needs to keep her illusion of how wonderful she is in place. She definitely changed her mind, chose someone else and let you down. Now she wants your gratitude because she knows what is best for you. Don’t buy it.

You can learn by watching your friend. See how easily we can sell our selves a bill of goods? She doesn’t want to look like she’s let you down, so she’s conveniently created another reality, through rationalization, that says she did you a big favor. Right now, you are the only one willing to see through it. Even so, it can be a valuable lesson.

None of us like to hurt others and be seen as thoughtless or irresponsible. However, trying to cleverly rearrange the truth to suit our purposes is an insult to those who love and trust us. There is nothing thoughtful about manipulating people into silence and then trying to make them feel that they should be grateful. It’s confusing and abusive.

This situation can provide you with some very valuable information the next time you are on the other end of the stick. You have the chance to learn how to say something like “I am going to change the arrangement we had for you to take me to my destination. I have someone else who wants to do it, too, and it will offer us the opportunity to check out each other’s homes. If I’m causing you any inconvenience, I apologize. This will just work better for me.” See how different that feels? Disappointing, yes…confusing, no.

There’s nothing in that statement that you can pat yourself on the back for, but you can give yourself points for integrity and clarity. Blessings, Luise

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