10.24.2011

On Etiquette, Friends and Confrontation



Do you remember my recent post on The Etiquette of Mobile Phones? Well in that post I mentioned an old friend of mine whom I took to tea- who would occasionally take phone calls during our tea. In the post I asked the question – how do you tell a good friend that something they are doing bothers you?

I am certainly not the person to answer that question as I am somewhat of a chicken when it comes to confrontation (OK not somewhat- I am a chicken). You see I am very afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, angering them or getting into an argument. So instead of confronting the issue I just don’t do or say anything at all.

Well I did not have to worry about confronting my tea room friend because she actually read my blog and confronted me! Thankfully she is a kind person with a sense of humor otherwise there might have been a fracas.

That afternoon we actually met for tea and caught up. She explained to me her side of the story (she has to accept calls for work and be on call at all times) and I explained to her mine (when I am with someone that frequently looks at their phone I feel as though they would rather be somewhere else). She said she understood my pet peeve and I apologized for not bringing it up to her immediately. In the end we had a lovely afternoon over steaming cups of tea and an awful lot of cake.

Later that night I began to think about the subject of friendship, etiquette and confrontation. While it was temporarily more comfortable and convenient to say nothing at all and complain about my friend’s behavior in my head, in the long run it would have been more sound if I had confronted the problem head on. After all, letting something so trivial get in the way of a friendship is ridiculous to say the least.

So my etiquette question this week is being turned to you. What do you do when you are bothered by an etiquette issue from someone close to you? Do you ignore it and hope that it goes away? Or do you confront it head on? What is your stance on etiquette, friends and confrontation?


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15 comments:

Patricia said...

This is a very interesting topic. I have been in the situation where I have, unbeknownst to me, annoyed someone with my actions. I had no clue at all (the thing I did was something which was quite common amongst another set of friends) until I happened to call this friend quite a while afterwards and she tore into me about it. It was very upsetting and the friendship did not survive. So, I vote for saying something! I love your blog by the way and looking forward to hearing more about your forthcoming book.

Merveilleux said...

Last week I met up with my friend for tea during her 1-hour lunch break at work. The first half hour was great.. Then she said "Oh! I have to call my insurance company really quick".. Without hesitation she dials them up and remains on the phone for the entire rest of our meeting, even longer, she waved me off and said thanks for tea while the phone was glued to her ear. I couldn't believe it! I just sat there sipping my tea, wondering if I should just go.
Later that evening she text me "Sorry about the long call". I just said "It's fine".. I mean, what do you say? I feel like she caught on to my disbelief which is why she later apologized.
I would like to know if something I do bothers someone else but I'm also very conscious of things like that. I try my best not to do annoying things.

Kathleen said...

What a great post topic! I have a friend who does that whenever we meet for lunch or even when we are talking on the phone. It always makes me feel as though I'm less important then 'the rest of her life'. The first thing she does when we meet is place her phone on the table, so she can be sure to hear it's 'Sex in the City' ring tone. (I wish she would at least change that!) I suppose I've just accepted it, because I wouldn't think of saying anything to her. I was especially hurt when I invited her to my home for a lovely lunch (if I do say so myself) and she took calls the entire time. She has no children (which I can excuse) and the calls were friends, sister and nothing that couln't have waited or been returned later.
I always turn my phone off when I am with someone. Period. But, I would never say anything to her about this. So, thank your for at least letting me vent a bit about how insignificant I feel when this happens. It's good to know I'm not alone.
Warmly, Kathleen
PS I LOVE my new shoes. They're perfect.

LR @ Magnificent or Egregious said...

haha Great post Jennifer, I love this topic! I mentioned before how I met my friend for supper and she was on the phone for 15 minutes (I thought she was talking to a client - she's a realtor) but it turns out she was just talking to a friend! (who is actually no longer her friend these days)...I ended up retorting that so-and-so will not be interuppting our supper and my friend put her phone away after that! I have to admit that I do limit the time I spend with this friend of mine ever since that incident.

Anyway, my thing right now is how to respond/what to do about nosy busybodies who make little comments and snide remarks about when my husband and I will get pregnant and have babies (which is something we want, but it hasn't happened yet). Let's open that can of worms, shall we? :)

p.s. When is the book coming out?! how is everything coming with that?

LMK said...

If this ever came about at a lunch I would keep looking at my watch and if she/he didn't get the hint summon the waitress/er, write on a napkin I just remembered an appointment, pay my bill and leave. If the person is a good enough friend we would have another meeting and would hope it wouldn't happen again. If they aren't then I would be happy not to be subjected to the behavior again. And happy that I asserted myself, but in a more graceful, civilized manner. So far this has never happened to me - what joy is mine!

Tabby O said...

I have a close friend who is constantly texting while we have coffee, lunch or talk in person. I can't stand it, but think it would be rude to say anything. I don't want to impose my etiquette rules on anyone else :) I've come to accept that some people are just ignorant when it comes to manners. If I was with someone who was taking a phone call, I'd wait for a couple of minutes before politely excusing myself. If they don't have time for me, I don't have time for them. My partner agrees that it would be rude to confront a friend about a minor etiquette issue, but I can appreciate anyone who is confident enough to do so with their friends. I'd most definitely want someone to point out any slip-ups of mine.

@LR @ Magnificent or Egregious - I can't stand it when people assume you want to get married or have children. I'm sorry you've had to put up with that. People need to mind their own business ;)

Beautiful Things said...

Yes, talking or texting when you're having lunch with someone is just rude. The only exceptions I'd make are for emergencies - sick child, being on call for work etc. Even then I'd hope someone would briefly apologise before answering. It's very difficult to know how to deal with it though. I find my response differs according to how well I know the person.

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Hi everyone- thanks so much for weighing in with your comments! It is a tricky subject because I know that when I am away from my daughter I have my phone out and will look at it immediately if I get a text or call... I just can't help it. I think the main issue with my situation was that I talked about what was bothering me and I'm so glad my friend and I did and that we worked it out... it wasn't because I was brave and brought it up though! I'm just glad the discussion came up and the air was cleared.

I love discussing etiquette issues... it's one of my favorite topics and something that is covered a lot in my book that will be out in November (!) :) Thank you to everyone for your comments and thank you to those of you who are new to commenting- I love to hear from you!

And Kathleen I'm so glad you love the new shoes! (She was in search of a low heeled pump by Ferragamo similar to the one I wore in the pantyhose video).

I hope everyone has a wonderful week...

-Jennifer xx

The Daily Connoisseur said...

Although I have to add that when I have my phone 'out' it is hidden away at the top of my handbag and on the soft ring :)

K. L. said...

I agree with all the comments about the rudeness, or lack of consideration, shown by friends who are glued to their phones during visits and know it often makes us feel unimportant. But--you don't need to *confront* the friend, you simply need to *talk* to her--and not days later, when you've worked up a good rant. Rather than saying, "You are SO rude, didn't anyone teach you manners?!", try saying, "When you talk on the phone when we're together, it makes me feel like I am (OR our friendship is) not very important to you. It would mean a lot to me if you'd not take calls, except for emergencies, from your kids, etc.." Focus on your hurt feelings, rather than on your anger--or your friend's shortcomings. I know this may not be easy, but keep in mind that this woman is your *friend*--you'd like to keep and enrich the friendship, not end it in a spat over cell phones! Katherine Louise

LR @ Magnificent or Egregious said...

@ Tabby O - thanks dear! :)

K. L. said...

Sorry sorry! I'm afraid I sounded like a know it all--I didn't mean to. I've been in similar situations myself, some involving family. Katherine Louise

K. L. said...

Sorry! I think I sounded like a terrible know it all--I didn't mean to. I've been in similar situations, some with family. Katherine Louise

The Daily Connoisseur said...

K.L.- Not at all! I was actually just going to respond to your comment which has very sound advice. You're absolutely right- it should not have to be a confrontation. Something like that amongst very good friends should just be quick conversation. And my friend in question is such a good friend. We have so much wonderful history together and she is a genuinely top notch person it would be a shame if I let something so silly come between us. Thanks again for contributing xo

Dien M said...

This is a topic that always has me evaluating the situation at hand. It depends on what happened, how severe the issue is and how often it has been repeated.

I've learned not to dismiss my feelings. I find that too many women do that to keep the peace. And in the end, they end up blowing things out of proportion or perpetuation a passive-aggressive mindset. But feelings are information that one must pay attention to, and it's important to hear a friend out before taking feelings a step further.

For me, it's important to open up a conversation and at least ask my friend what was behind the apparent infraction. It helps me distance myself from jumping to any conclusions and to get a better perspective of why my friend did what he or she did. This way, I can better assess if the occurrence warrants any more emotional energy from me, instead of, for example, saying something I may regret.

Now, there are times when I have a right to be angry immediately - again, depending on the severity of the situation. This doesn't mean I get to fly off the handle, of course, but by assessing smaller, less severe situations, I reserve my natural right to be angry on situations that do warrant it.

In other words, it's about picking and choosing my battles.

 
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