DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend who loves me a lot but talks to me in a harsh way. I find that when I am feeling vulnerable or upset about something, I cannot talk to her for fear that I will start crying. She doesn’t know how to be gentle. I don’t think she intends to be mean, but sometimes it seems like that.
I really do appreciate her support. She often has great ideas, but it’s hard for me to accept them when she comes across as so judgmental. Is there anything I can say to her to get her to soften her words? -- Sharp Tongue
DEAR SHARP TONGUE: On a day when you feel strong and clear, contact your friend and tell her you need to talk to her about something. Then, tell your friend that you love her and you know she loves you, but it hurts your feelings when she is harsh or judgmental when you are in a vulnerable space. Be prepared with specific examples of her engaging you in sharp ways so that you can illustrate your concerns. Tell her that sometimes you need her to just be kind and to bite her tongue rather than laying into you about whatever is going on.
Chances are, she won’t be aware of how abrupt she seems. That’s why you should give her a couple of examples so that she can understand what you are talking about. Describe a scenario, including what was happening, how you were feeling and how she engaged with you. Then tell her how you felt and what you would have preferred. Ask her if she understands.
Ultimately, you may not want to talk to her when you are feeling emotional or vulnerable in some way, as you are asking her to be different than she is. That may not work, and you will end up with hurt feelings.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)Read more in: Friends & Neighbors | Etiquette & Ethics | Miscellaneous