Fighting friends

By admin
21 January 2014

The start of a new school year can bring a ton of drama between friends. Here’s how to resolve World War BFF

SOMETIMES even the closest of buds can become embroiled in explosive arguments and it might seem like the end of a friendship. But according to clinical psychologist Gemma Cribb there is a positive side to friends falling out. “Sometimes fights allow you to understand your friend on a deeper level than before,” she says. “It gives you and your pal the opportunity to really say what you feel and ask for what you need.”

Learning to fight fairly and handle the situation maturely is the key to getting through a rough patch.

WHEN YOU’RE STUCK IN THE MIDDLE

When Amy (15) found herself caught between two warring groups of friends, they gave her an ultimatum – pick which group you want to be friends with. “They started griping about each other and making up rumours. It went on for four months and a lot of people were in tears.”

Amy was torn and couldn’t choose. “It was a really difficult place to be. I didn’t want to be that person running between groups with messages.”

HOW TO PLAY FAIR . . .

DON’T TAKE SIDES: Clinical psychologist Sally-Anne McCormack says it’s imperative not to favour one group or person over the other. “Talk about how each party must be feeling and say in different words what they’re trying to say to each other,” she says. “For example, ‘She’s yelling at you but she’s just letting you know she’s hurt’.”

PLAY MEDIATOR: “This can be tempting. However, be careful to be fair to both sets of friends,” Gemma says. To avoid miscommunication, she suggests getting the two groups together. “Encourage them to talk directly to each other as passing on messages can be exhausting.”

BE IMPARTIAL: “Strike a balance between listening to their complaints and providing your viewpoint,” she adds. “Make sure both friends know you care for them equally.”

WHEN YOU CREATED THE CONFLICT

When Sarah (17) was welcomed into a new group of friends, there was a girl who didn’t seem very friendly. “I’d heard rumours she didn’t like me, so I started complaining about her and saying no one liked her.” One night at a party, she confronted the girl. “She started walking away and I followed her, yelling at her and asking why she didn’t like me. She turned around unexpectedly and started yelling back. I knew I was in the wrong.”

HOW TO PLAY FAIR . . .

APOLOGISE: “Say you’re sorry for the attack but not necessarily about the issue. If, unlike Sarah, you know you’re in the right, just say sorry for the way you went about it,” Sally-Anne says. From here, Gemma suggests talking rationally to your friend. “Listen with an open mind,” she says.

USE “I” STATEMENTS: Gemma suggests that you use non-attacking language. “Saying ‘I feel . . .’ or ‘I would like . . .’ will help you present your concerns in a way that’s likely to be listened to,” she says. “Try to avoid ‘you’ statements.”

DON’T TALK BEHIND HER BACK: Sarah learnt the hard way that being nasty only gives the person you’re fighting with more ammunition to use against you later. “Don’t bully, tease, lie, call your friends names, tell their secrets or talk behind their backs,” Gemma says. Be mature and go straight to the source to discuss the issue.

WHEN YOUR FRIEND STARTED THE FEUD

Natalie (17) saw her social life come crashing down when her friend Sammy accused her of flirting with her crush. “She got jealous and started telling the whole school that I hooked up with this guy when I didn’t. He even told her it wasn’t true but she wouldn’t listen,” Natalie says. “The worst part was that I’m short and she’s tall so when she confronted me about it, she was screaming down at me. It was scary.” Things got so bad Natalie ended up changing schools.

HOW TO PLAY FAIR . . .

DON’TGET PERSONAL: It can be tempting to bite back with nasty comments, especially if you don’t feel like you’ve done anything wrong, but Sally-Anne warns, “If you have an issue with a friend, keep it about the behaviour, not the person.”

LISTEN TO YOUR FRIEND: “Tell her you’re going to think about everything she’s said and that you’ll do whatever you can to help your relationship,” she adds. “Listening to her will make her feel heard. You don’t have to agree with her, but at least think it over and see if there are some things you can change.”

DON’T AVOID HER: Natalie’s instant reaction was to flee the drama instead of facing up to it. “Try to be friendly and don’t avoid your friend, even if you feel uncomfortable around her,” Gemma says. “The sooner you get back to normal, the quicker the fight will pass.”

DO YOU FIGHT DIRTY?

Take our quiz to see just how fairly you behave in conflict.

I’ve ignored a friend and excluded her from the group. TRUE/FALSE

I’ve uninvited someone to my party. TRUE/FALSE

I send nasty texts to people I’m fighting with. TRUE/FALSE

I say nasty things about friends to other friends. TRUE/FALSE

I can remember the exact details of every argument I’ve had with my friends. TRUE/FALSE

I never make the first call to apologise. TRUE/FALSE

I purposely tag people in bad photos on Facebook. TRUE/FALSE

MOSTLY TRUE

Whether you hold a grudge, rehash old arguments or fight to the bitter end, you’re determined to prove the other person wrong. Next time you’re tempted to lash out, take a one-day cooling-off period and try to approach your friend with an open mind.

MOSTLY FALSE

You prefer to stay silent rather than fuel a rumour and you’re a great example of how to handle fights maturely and honestly. But your efforts to keep the peace among your friends can sometimes mean that you get trodden on by louder people – so be sure to speak up!

WHAT NOT TO DO IN A FIGHT

Psychologist Margaret Clarke has the last word on three rules for avoiding friendship battles.

- Never EVER gossip about your friends or talk behind their backs as they might find out about it and will then have difficulty trusting you again.

- If you’re having a tiff, work out what’s important to you ? the fight or the friendship. Maybe it’s time to move on if you and your friend are always bickering over silly things.

- Try to sort out the problem by discussing it face-to-face and avoid involving other people in the issue.

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