She just dropped a bomb on you and you want to tell her, in 30 seconds or less, just how completely ridiculous she's being. But you can't. Because this girl needs you to have her back.
Here are three ways to show up for your friend even when you disagree with her.
1. Identify the parts you do support. Many times an argument is so nuanced that there are bound to be aspects of her position that you can agree with. Try your best to hone in on those parts and do your best to amplify them. That’s what true support looks like.
Here are some common disagreements along with ways to show support:
Ex 1: She’s going on a date with a total downgrade. Good for her for getting out there—get manis together the day before and suggest a good date spot.
Ex 2: She’s chasing after a job or dream that you think is a bad fit. Good for her for being ambitious—buy her a book like “You are a Badass” by Jen Sincero or “Money Management for Millennials” by Merrie Allmon Allen to get her started.
Ex 3: She wants to have a medical procedure, but you just can't stand behind it. Be there for her physically and emotionally afterwards to help her recover, if necessary.
Ex 4: She said “Yes” to the wrong guy. Buy her cutesy “Engaged” shirts and mugs and other bridal trinkets—she’s excited and wants you to be excited with her.
Ex 5: Her new friends are not your cup of tea. Save an occasional Friday night to join them out on the town. If that’s too much to handle, then occasionally ask her how they’re doing (and try your best to mean it).
Ex 6: You find her parenting style to be a little ridiculous. Hey, “momming” is hard. As long as her kids are not being emotionally or physically abused, suck it up and schedule mommy time for you two to get away from your little rugrats for a few hours.
The key is to emphasize your concern with the issue at hand and avoid the temptation to make judgments on her decision-making, because that is the single fastest way to get shut down.
2. Find the right time and place, then talk about it.
You cannot avoid this issue or beat around the bush—true friends are able to keep it real with each other (with a bit of grace, of course). If it is the first conversation you’re having with your friend about said issue and she seems completely excited about whatever it is she is sharing with you, vocalizing your concern (at that time) in low doses may be best— you don’t want to kill the girl’s vibe. It’s also possible that you haven’t had the time to process the information and thoughtfully choose the best words.
So before you say anything, find the right time. Maybe you can wait until you’ve just had a belly laugh over cocktails and ease into things. Or hey, sometimes it’s best to wait a few days and call her up.
Bring it up with a lead-in like:
“I’ve been thinking about this ___________ thing you shared with me the other day and I’m kind of worried because _________________. I love you and the last thing I want is for this to cause any _______________ between us, but because I want the best for you, I just have to stress that ______________________________. I’ll have your back either way.”
The key is to emphasize your concern with the issue at hand while avoiding the temptation to make judgments on her decision-making, because that is the single fastest way to get shut down.
If you can’t express your concerns to your friend, I’m going to just say that you may want to reassess that your relationship altogether. But if verbalizing your disagreement is something you are ready to do, there is right way to do things with your friendship still intact.
3. Pray about it.
Chances are, despite your very sound and logical argument, you may in fact be wrong yourself, my dear. It’s our suggestion that you ask for guidance (to know what to say), compassion (to see things from her side) and humility (so you can listen to her with your heart instead of quick and dismissive judgement).
We have to be slow to speak, and practice really listening. We don’t always have the right answers. Seeking direction is the best thing you can do instead of leaning into your own understanding and perspective. The guidance you receive may lead you to a place you weren’t expecting.
You can also ask for her to be granted wisdom and courage, along with physical and emotional protection.
Now, it goes without saying that if the decision your friend is making concerns her physical or emotional well-being, there is no tip-toeing around it—you need to explicitly state your disapproval and emphasize your concern for her safety. Get the interventions you need to make sure your girl is okay.
When your friend is making decisions that don’t necessarily align with your choices, remember: we are all different, and regardless of her choices, she needs you by her side. Do your best to find a way to see past the moves she’s making and, instead, have her back along the way.
How did you show up when a friend made a choice you didn't agree with?
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Danielle Jackson, Friendship Speaker
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