We’ve all got that friend. The person who, no matter what the situation, will always find a way to turn it around to be about them instead of you.
The symptoms manifest themselves differently, but the common denominator is self-absorption. Sadly, family members are also guilty.
We also all have our days, when we’re a less than perfect friend ourselves. Recognize any of these folks?
1. The whiner
There’s always a problem, and it’s always happening to her. Nobody knows the troubles she’s seen, but you better believe you’re gonna hear about it. If your mother is dying but her cat is sick, guess who’s going to monopolize the conversation?
Whining is usually a bid for attention from somebody who doesn’t know how to get it any other way. Next time she starts, say, “I’d rather hear what’s going right with your life.”
2. The leech
He invites you over for “a few beers,” and when you get there, you find yourself refinishing his deck. She asks you what you’re doing tomorrow and when you say, “Nothing,” she says, “Great, I need somebody to watch my kids.” They can’t (or won’t) handle their own lives, so they parcel off portions of it to everyone else.
The answer: Say “no” early and often. They’ll either quit asking so much, or they’ll drop you, and you’ll know they prefer servants instead of friends.
3. The yakker
Thank God for caller ID. These people missed their calling as carnival barkers. Are they a friend or a walking monologue looking for a place to land? Full disclosure, this is my vice. Well OK, my worst vice amongst my many, so I understand the background on this one.
The yakker’s biggest challenge is that they process their thoughts out loud. They can’t think unless they’re talking.
The most effective strategy is to interrupt. It might seem rude, but yakkers often assume that talking over people is a natural conversation style. I come from a family of over talkers myself. Before I became more aware, I often found myself wondering why other people weren’t jumping in, only to find out later that they were annoyed at me for not giving them the chance.
4. The adviser
Whether they’re trying to prove how smart they are or start their own counseling business, this friend has the answer for everything.
Lots of nodding and murmurs of “I’ll think about it,” are an easy out. But if he or she is really getting under your skin, try saying, “You know, there are times when I just want your support instead of your advice.” Try to smile while you’re saying it, and they might not hit you.
5. The bragger
Been there, done that, and done it way better than you. When they’re not talking about their kids or career, they’re describing their tennis game and vacation.
Overachievers often believe that they’re the sum of their accomplishments. What they really want is kudos, so just give it to them. Fawn on about their happenings. When you’re ready for them to shut up, say, “Let’s talk about the meaning of life because I’m sure there’s more to you than just your surface accomplishments.”
Life is too short to have — or to be — a bad friend. If you see yourself in any of these, it’s not too late to change. And if these remind you of someone you know, you might want to consider an intervention.
Lisa Earle McLeod is the author of several books, including “Selling with Noble Purpose: How to Drive Revenue and Do Work That Makes You Proud.”