Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Is that how they do it on your Planet?

So the following email arrived in my inbox the other morning:

Hey Icarus, you haven't responded to any of my invitations lately. Let me know if you want me to stop sending them to you. When you don't reply, it gives me the impression that you don't see any value in my invitations, and it that's true, then I'd rather save you the time and me the effort and just not include you on the distribution list.

My first thought was to send a response saying "I'm sorry you are such a complete doink and I need to lower my expectations regarding any future dealings with you accordingly."

Instead I took some time to Flip the Script and look at it from her point of view. Is it possible that I really did offend her? I did blatantly ignore the invitation and did not feel the need to send either a "thanks but not interested" or "would but I'm too busy" email? The wording of the invitations said to let this person know IF I was interested. My informal and totally unscientific survey (I asked two different people) shows that most people will assume if you don't answer an email, you either aren't interested or are too busy to partake of said activity anyway.

Personally, I don't like this approach and avoid it but IIFC I was legitimately busy around the time of said invitation.

But this is different. This "friend" (let's call her Monica) is notorious for:
  • Internalizing everything,
  • Conceding nothing, and
  • Keeping meticulous score.
I forwarded Monica's email to some friends, a few who knew her and her little quirks, and a few who have never met her. The I-Never-Met-Monica camp told me to run, not walk away from her. They suspect that she has issues. If only it were that simple. Her Issues have Issues. And her Issue's Issue's have pets.

The friends we share in common invited me to the next Friends-of-Monica Support Group meeting. Essentially they pointed out that behavior that is quite acceptable in other friendships are not tolerated from her. If you don't respond to Monica immediately -- and if you could respond before she sends something out, that would be optimal -- she interprets it as you are holding out for a better offer.

What? And miss out on a chance to spend quality time with Ms "don't see any value in my invitations". But wait, the hits just keep on comin'. Our mutual friends went on to assure me that while they understand that everyone has other friends and difficult schedules and plans are sometimes very fluid, Monica doesn't see it that way. More Monicaisms:

If you have conflicting plans and can't make something she has suggested, let her know immediately;

She would prefer you provide the details of why you can't make it;

Saying you might be able to make it is permitted, but, it always makes Monica feel like you were holding out for a better offer.

So let's review:

  • If Monica invites me to something, and I have definite plans, I have to tell her what I'm choosing over her. That will set her off.
  • If I have tentative plans that might get canceled or postponed, I can say I might be able to make it, but that will also upset her.  
Seems like I'm caught between a rock and a social challenged friend.

 The really sad news is, we created this monster. All these years of taking the path of least resistance and not calling Monica out on her behavior has given her license to act the way she does.

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