DEAR NATALIE: Why is it that when I’m with my friend, I can’t get a word in? When I do, which isn’t often, she interrupts and then proceeds to hog the conversation? All she does is complain about her job. I am so sick of hearing about what happened at work! I have noticed that she only behaves this way when it is just the two of us. I have been with her and my husband and her sisters and she is pretty quiet. I guess what I have to say doesn’t interest her. How do I deal with this? -- COMPLAINING ABOUT COMPLAINER
DEAR COMPLAINING ABOUT COMPLAINER: You can look at this from a different perspective. Clearly, she finds you to be a good listener, someone she can confide in, and someone she feels comfortable being herself around. Maybe she is shy or intimidated by other people, but around you, she feels more open and free. You must be a great confidante. However, the problem with being a great listener is that sometimes your own stories can be drowned out. The next time the two of you are alone, I would just tell her how you are feeling. Tell her that you really appreciate the fact that she feels so comfortable to share her thoughts with you, but that sometimes you feel as though the conversation is lopsided and you want to contribute more. You deserve to be heard and she needs to respect that. If she can’t, what exactly is your friendship based on other than you being a doormat?
DEAR NATALIE: My friend and I have known each other for years. Recently, however, she came into some family money and now that is all she talks about. She has become really self-involved and I would say that almost all of our conversations over the past year have been about her and her new handbags. She doesn’t even really ask me much about my life and I find it really hurtful. I want to say something, but I’m afraid she will just say that I am jealous of her. Which, by the way, I am not. I am happy for her good fortune, but can’t we talk about something else for once? — MAD ABOUT MONEY
DEAR MAD ABOUT MONEY: This is a tricky one because you are right. Your annoyance will come off as jealousy even if that’s not really the case. You can play this one of two ways. Either ignore it, accept she has changed and realize you may just not be on the same page anymore. Maybe your relationship will drift for a while if you take a step back, but maybe that’s what has to happen. Option two: Confront her lovingly about this and tell her that this is not a good look. If I was behaving badly, I would hope a few of my close friends would step up and say something. A real friend let’s you know when you have food in your teeth, is a shoulder to cry on, a person to laugh with and calls you out on your nonsense when needed. In this instance, be a friend and tell her to settle down. While it’s super great that she has money, that’s not why you are friends. Maybe she needs a reminder. Money comes and goes but real friends stick by you. If she won’t accept your *gentle!* comments, maybe she should just talk to her new handbags, instead. I’m sure the conversation will be scintillating.
Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: If something isn’t a fit for you, pass it along to someone that it may be helpful for. We have to support each other, uplift one another and think outside ourselves. If we do this, many more of us could be successful in many ways!
Please send your questions to Natalie Bencivenga to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Dr., Pittsburgh, PA 15212. Follow her on Twitter at @NBSeen and on Instagram @NatalieBenci
(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)