Alienating people and potential friends

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-12-2003
Alienating people and potential friends
Fri, 04-18-2003 - 8:13pm
You darling helpful girls out there...what would I do without your's my other serious dilemma...

I think alienating people has become my true specialty. I honestly don't think I am that outspoken of a person, on the contrary I have always realized the importance of keeping a certain restrain on opinions in general (and boy, we all have lots of them, as you know). I almost never speak out on the so called controversial issue such as racism, abortion, affirmative action, etc. with people I barely know, I either keep my personal views on those things to myself or leave them for closer friends.

Lately I am finding out that even those friends and acquaintances are becoming very touchy feely and overly sensitive just about anything. I don't think it's the circle of people I know in particular, I think it's the society in general, having become so politically correct and sensitive.

It's difficult to function when one cannot fully express how one really feels about issue. Wouldn't you agree?

Normally this wouldn't bother me, I really have somewhat of a thick skin (or is that what I keep telling myself, because after all I am here whining to you all..) but I really have only just a handful of friends. Mmm, something like three close ones. When I look back on the past I realize that the reason either I stopped talking to a few others or I ended friendships is because of things that were said on my part. Things such as: " I cannot believe you borrowed $200 from me last year and I haven't seen it back despite my need to get it back" and "What kind of a friend are you to run and tell your current boyfriend my business, that's a betrayal of trust". Typical female stuff.

About a week ago, I supposedly insulted another friend who may not be my friend anymore (she had confessed to mutual friends) when I said to her that in my opinion she lives in a white trash town (it was not intended to be a direct insult at her and she knows it). Well, excuse me, my comment may not have been in the ultimate classy style, probably not even necessary, but God knows, that's how I feel about her town, it is only the fact. The actual circumstances for this comment were that she has been nagging me to try to find a rental in her town for months now and finally I told her that the reason I would never move into it is again because it has questionable demographics, a lot of crime, etc.

I need an objective opinion on this one. I still think there was nothing wrong with my comment given I have known this girl for years and I thought she could take it. Apparently not.

What bothers me is that I have been told by my boyfriend that it is my outspokenness that turns people off. That may be, I am not trying to deny it. What's hard for me to swallow is that what I'm facing is not having a lot of friends because of it. Better yet, I am starting to tell myself that I will never be accepted by a majority of people unless I am very nice, very polite, and never critical. I don't know why all of a sudden conflicts with people really start to bother me. Is it because as I'm getting older I am having more of those> is that part of life or are we suppose to learn how to avoid the conflicts? I like having female friendships. I was never close with my mother and I feel like this is my chance to have a meaningful relationship going. I believe my self-esteem is beginning to suffer as an outcome but boy, I really don't want to change. But should I?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-29-2003
Sat, 04-19-2003 - 5:49pm
I myself am pretty outspoken and have put my foot in the mouth quite a few times. However, I haven't actually turned people off by what I say b/c I tend to voice my opinion about controversial issues in a group setting only after hearing other people's opinions. If I disagree, I carefully choose my words. I know I've been told that my e-mails to my organization (student government) did reveal me to be harsh, judgmental. The person who said that took it the wrong way. I only meant to point something out in a humorous way. Instead of getting miffed about it, I reread it, thought about it and saw her perspective and learned from it so much so that I recently sent an email to respond to a discussion we were having and she complimented me by saying nice job.

What more than likely happened in your friend's case, is that "white trash" may have made her sensitive. You might have used better wording, saying what you wrote in the email: questionable demographics, crime, etc. It sounds les offensive and more neutral. I personally wouldn't want anyone to describe my town as white trash even if it really was b/c after all I would be living there and you might come off describing me as white trash.

you don't have to stop being outspoken but you should think about what words to use and ask yourself if you really need to use colorful words to get your point across or if you can send your messages by using simple language. Most of the time, people will appreciate it if you share your opinions but in a moderate way.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Sat, 04-19-2003 - 7:37pm
Nothing is wrong with being outspoken at all!! If you have an opinion about something and feel the need/desire to voice it, then by all means, no one is stopping you!!! BUT, I think your choice of words are what is turning people away....

Personally, if I was your friend and you told me those things, I'd be offended as well.... all of the examples you've provided to us are said in a fasion that provokes a defensive reaction. With everything you've said, although YOU know that you didn't mean it this way, you've portrayed it as an attack to their character. i.e. "what kind of friend are you" "you live in a white trash town!" "why haven't you given me my money yet"... there are definitley different ways you could've said those things, while still expressing your opinion and emotions, that could've been alot more acceptable... For example:

Instead of saying "what kind of friend are you to share my secrets!", say "I'm really suprised you told him that.. that is MY personal business and I thought that you'd take that into consideration!"

Instead of saying "i cant believe i lended you $200 and you didnt even pay me back yet", say "Remember when I borrowed you that $200? Well, I was under the impression i'd be getting it back, and I'd appreciate it b/c I really need it..."

Instead of saying "how can you live there, its so white trash!!" say "I'm suprised you're happy here! You seem like you definitely deserve a higher-class type of place!!"

Yes, all of those are "softened" to accomodate different peoples sensitivity levels, but they're all reasonable and STILL get your point across...

I think you just need to re-think not what you're trying to say, but how you're wording it.

Good luck