Help! My Work Friend Is Driving Me Crazy

Hi Ginzo!

I work with a friend who I really like, but I’m finding that his work habits are really irritating me. He never seems to make deadlines and is a really bad project manager. He always wants to say yes and completely over-promises and extremely under-delivers. It really gets under my skin! What’s the best way to stop this from making me completely crazy – especially because he’s my friend and I don’t want to completely ruin that.

Irritated at the Office

Dear Irritated,

Conflict with coworkers in the worst. We spend the majority of our time with these people, and with different personality types and work styles, we are going to get irritated with them sometimes. Add in the sensitivity of the fact that he is your friend, and I understand why this is weighing on your mind.

When you are frustrated with a situation, you have two options: do something about it, or let it go. In this case, both might work. In reality, you only have control over yourself, which you seem to know because you did not write in asking me how to make your coworker a more organized and efficient worker, but how to stop yourself from going nuts over it. However, just because you cannot control his actions, doesn’t mean that you can’t do something to at least feel like the problem is being addressed. I will suggest a couple of things you can do that may help, but if neither sounds applicable, just skip to the last and most important step.

The first thing you can do is give your friend feedback about his work, but be careful about how you do so. When working with friends, it can be easy for criticism to get personal because, after all, you have a personal relationship with them. This might make you avoid constructive criticism. However, feedback is important for any type of work, and it could be especially valuable coming from someone he respects. If you find that your friendship makes you hesitate to say anything when he does something wrong, whether because you are worried you will be too visibly frustrated or you don’t want to hurt his feelings, it might help to write it down first. If you are about to go into a meeting with him where you will have to address something he messed up, write a couple bullet points about what you would want to say to him. Adjust it for maximum diplomacy and professionalism, then go into the meeting and let him know what he is doing well, and what he could improve.

However, if you are not in a position where it would be appropriate for you to give you feedback like that, you might try a more roundabout way. Talk to your boss about having everyone in the office do a personality test and strengths and weaknesses assessment. This could be helpful for everyone, and it could cause your friend to either realize for himself what he needs to improve or give your boss the insight necessary to give him feedback. It might also help you more clearly recognize the strengths he brings to the table, and have a greater understanding of why he works the way he does. If your boss isn’t into the idea, you could try taking an assessment yourself and bringing it up in conversation with him. He may be intrigued enough to take it himself, or at minimum, it could get him thinking about his own strengths and weaknesses.

Again, these steps may do nothing to improve his work ethic; the purpose of doing something about it is for your own peace of mind, and you shouldn’t expect him to change. That is why the most important step is the last step: let it go. Things drive us crazy because we don’t stop thinking about them. Give this situation less real estate in your mind. When you find yourself thinking about what a crappy project manager he is, match that thought with something you really admire about him. If you find yourself getting very frustrated with the quality of his work, take a break to cool down; meditate, take a walk, or call a friend to shift your focus. At the end of the day, all you can do is do your own good work. Maybe your friend will learn by your example; maybe not. Either way, you have done your best. Keep focus and don’t let things out of your control distract you from what is really important to you. Good luck!

XOXO,
Ginzo

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Am I Wrong For Wanting to Cut Off These Friendships?

Hey Ginzo!

So super long story here, I’ll try to shorten it as much as possible…

So my brother in law, let’s call him Tyler, started dating this girl named Sierra a few years back. My husband’s family is very close and we all hang out frequently, so when we met her we were… underwhelmed. It took awhile but we eventually warmed up to her and she started sort of becoming part of the family.

In an effort to make her more comfortable during the rocky period (since I was closest in age), I introduced her to my close friend Anna. They completely hit it off and the three of us hung out a ton for awhile. I started getting busier, however, but the two of them continued to hang out all the time and became really really good friends.

Well, fast forward to this past October — Tyler and Sierra broke up. And now (about a week and a half ago near the end of February), he’s engaged to a girl he met at work. So their relationship has literally gone further than his and Sierra’s ever did in about 1/12 of the time. Ouch.

At this point, Tyler told me that Sierra had been sort of stalking his new fiance, Faye. Sierra had messaged him a few times angrily because she found out how shortly after their breakup he had moved on. Faye fixed her Facebook privacy settings and now has it to where it’s totally impossible to see ANYTHING unless you’re her friend. So Tyler, knowing Sierra, Anna, and I were close at one time, begged me to cut contact with her and severely limit what I tell Anna. I hadn’t seen Sierra in months and we rarely ever talked anymore, so I really had no issue complying.

When Tyler and Faye announced their engagement and said they didn’t care who knew anymore, I felt obligated to at least tell Anna so she could relay it to Sierra (since I didn’t think Sierra would find out any other way). The whole thing blew up in my face.
Anna started insisting that I lied to her because Tyler had asked me to keep their relationship a secret since he knew Sierra and Anna were good friends. She claimed she and Sierra aren’t that close anymore, but I know that’s a complete lie. Now Anna is pressuring me and saying that I’m a bad friend to a girl I used to be close with since I’ve chosen my family over my brother’s ex. Anna keeps stirring up drama where there shouldn’t be any, and she constantly wants me to update her on Tyler’s fiancee and what they’re doing (which is super obviously digging so she can relay it all back to Sierra). It feels like our relationship has become a quiz every time I see her, and though she believes she’s being discreet with her questioning, she really, really isn’t.

I guess my question is twofold–one, am I wrong to cut ties with Sierra mainly only because she’s an ex of a brother I’m very close to?

And two–is being friends with Anna even worth it if she’s going to try to stir the pot on any and everything I do (and all she cares about now is gathering intel and reporting it back to a girl who is heartbroken and really hasn’t had the appropriate amount of time to heal)?

Over the Drama

Dear Over the Drama,

When I read your questions, it seems to me that you know what you want to do. Having written into advice columns myself, I find just the act of writing out the problem helps the decision become clearer, and I suspect that this may have happened for you. So while I am happy to weigh in with my opinion because, hi, that is why I’m here, I think you already know that you don’t want to waste any more of your time on these people, and I can’t blame you. Is that wrong? Not at all.

As you get older, you will have less and less time for your friends, and as everyone goes down different life paths, you lose some along the way. Not every person you befriend is going to stand the test of time. As you get to know them better and face different situations with them, people prove to you exactly how invested they are in you, and you learn how invest you are in them. They show you who they are and sometimes, this is the most beautiful thing in the world, and sometimes, it is a rude awakening.This doesn’t mean that you are disloyal if you decide not to maintain certain friendships; it’s just a natural part of becoming who you really are. Someone you befriend at age 15 may not grow into someone you want to be friends with when you’re 25, and that’s okay. And if these friendships are causing you more stress than they’re worth, it’s okay to let go of them.

Regarding Sierra: you were lukewarm about her when you first met her, it seems like you may never have fully warmed to her, and now the only reason that you were friends with her, her relationship with Tyler, is over. There is no reason to be cruel, but you don’t need to feel obligated to continue being her friend. I understand why she would be upset about Tyler’s engagement; she must feel rejected and insecure right now. While I can empathize with the emotions behind it, ultimately, it isn’t about her. Dating isn’t a competition to see who is going to win the engagement ring. She wasn’t the right person for him, and the timing just worked out that he found someone better suited for him very quickly. Yes, that hurts. But by sending a bunch of nasty messages and trying to find out every scrap of information she can about Tyler and his new relationship, she isn’t doing herself any favors, and she is putting you in an awkward position on top of it. She needs some time to work through her emotions and let the relationship go. Some distance from the entire situation is probably better for her; hearing all about Tyler and Faye from Anna is just making it more difficult for her to move on. Even if, with time, you were to decide that you do want to be friends with Sierra, it’s probably better right now for you both to have distance.

As to the question of whether or not it is worth it to maintain a friendship with Anna, that is up to you to decide. Feeling used by someone is certainly a great reason not to want to spend time with them anymore, and based on this story, I am not convinced that Anna gives you the level of empathy and understanding that you deserve as a friend. She may be working under the guise that she is helping Sierra, and she may sincerely believe she is, but she is not being a good friend to you in the process. Think about the reasons you became friends with Anna, why you are friends with her now, and why you would want to maintain a friendship with her. If your only motivation is obligation, feel free to let it go.

Does this mean you need to them outright to get lost? Not necessarily. It seems like there is distance growing between you all anyway, and you may just be able to let the friendships fade. If a big confrontation is only going to cause more drama, it might be worth it to just phase both of them out, spending less and less time talking to or hanging out with them. When Anna hits you up for the latest gossip, you may be able to be vague or unresponsive enough ( perhaps with a “I don’t really know,” “Just the usual,” or a pointed subject change) that she loses interest with time. Indulging in her need for the gossip even a little bit is only going to keep her coming back for more, so don’t give her anything to work with. Without your supply of information, if gossip is really her only motivation, you may find that the friendship fizzles out on its own. However, if this doesn’t happen, you may have to just tell Anna upfront that you don’t want to be a part of the gossip train anymore, that it is emotionally draining and putting you in a weird position with your family. Based on her recent MO, she will probably try to guilt you, but stand your ground. If you’re over the drama, don’t let it dictate your life; say how you really feel, and the people who are worth your time will accept it. If she can’t understand where you are coming from, she wasn’t your friend to begin with.

XOXO,
Ginzo