What to do about ‘Fr-enemies’ in Vail
Vail CO, Colorado
VAIL, Colorado ” “You know I’ve been concentrating on strengthening my network of friends,” Sondra said as we started our session. “I’m finding that it’s harder than I thought.”
“What’s happened since our last meeting?” I asked.
“My action steps included getting together with a new friend, Amy, to get to know each other better,” Sondra began. “As you know, I’m new to town and with the demands of my family and my part time job, it seems there is never enough time to develop friendships.”
“How did it go with Amy?” I asked.
“We got together for coffee a couple of weeks ago. I had such a great time. We seemed to have a lot in common.”
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“What was the best part about it?” I asked.
“There was such a feeling of connection,” Sondra shared. “We started with small talk, but as we got further into it, we were talking about more personal subjects. We left the coffee shop two hours later and agreed to get together again next month.”
“That sounds great!” I said.
“I thought it was great … until last week,” Sondra said, her mood shifting slightly.
“What happened?” I asked.
“I was volunteering in my daughter’s classroom and so were a couple of other moms. We got done early and decided to go to lunch. I was excited at the possibility of expanding my circle even further.”
“Did something happen at lunch?” I said.
“Right after we ordered, we started a casual conversation. Just chit chat,” Sondra said. “It was going fine until one of the moms started asking me questions about the information I had told Amy at our coffee just days before.”
“I was embarrassed. I was mad and I felt like I had been stabbed in the back! I hardly knew these women and because of Amy, they were privy to information that was extremely personal to me. I assumed that Amy knew that our conversation was confidential, but you know what they say about assuming anything …”
“How did you handle it?” I asked.
“Even though I was fuming, I tried to hide my emotions. I don’t like confrontations so I changed the subject,” Sondra said. “It gets worse. Then they talked about Amy and asked me questions, trying to get information, or should I say ammunition. Anything they talked about held such judgment and the bond between them seemed to grow stronger the more they talked about Amy and anyone else.”
“Sounds like you got more than you bargained for,” I said. “What are your goals now for developing new friendships?”
“I am a little gun shy,” she said. “I have to be careful in this social circle. They are like wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing. Except in this case, they are enemies dressed in friends’ clothing.” She thought for a moment and added, “‘Fr-enemies.’ They are not exactly friends, but not exactly enemies. They are ‘Fr-enemies.'”
“How can you detect a ‘fr-enemy?'” I asked.
“They are nice to your face, but won’t hesitate to talk about you behind your back,” she said. “I thought Amy and I were building a friendship, but now I’m not sure.”
“What will your next steps be?” I asked.
“Part of me wants to forget the idea of building friendships, but I also know that not everyone is a ‘fr-enemy.'” She continued, “I’ll give Amy the benefit of the doubt and talk to her at lunch next week. My next step with her will depend on her reaction. As for the other two, I won’t invest any time trying to fit in with people like that. It’s not worth it. I’ll be more cautious with new friendships and listen to how people talk about others. That is a clear sign of how they must talk about me when I am not there.”
“That sounds like very wise advice,” I said.
Coaching Challenge: For the next week, tune in to how you talk about other people when they are not there. Are you neutral, positive, and supportive or do you slip into judgment and gossip? Listen for how others talk about people who are not present. What does this tell you about how they may be talking about you when you aren’t there?
Sheri Fisher is a Life Coach who lives in Grand Junction. Her practice, Living On Purpose, focuses on personal and professional coaching. The situations and characters in her column are fictional to maintain client confidentiality. If you have topic suggestions, e-mail or comment on Sheri’s blog, http://www.coachwithsheri.com/blog/. Sheri can be reached at email@example.com or for more information, visit http://www.coachwithsheri.com.