What do you do when the silence is your fault?
Have you ever been talking to your best friend, your significant other, your parents, and all of a sudden you realize that something went wrong? One minute you were lost expressing your opinions, and the next minute everything is quiet. After a minute of silence, which feels like not only an eternity, but an eternity of a spider staring at you five feet away with no way to kill that damn thing (a.k.a hell), you realize that you might have said something to piss the other person off. After asking the classic "What's wrong?" question that only exacerbates the situation, your friend replies "nothing." The truth: YOU WERE A JERK!
Sure, you didn't realize that telling your best friend how every single song that they love is terrible music. You also didn't realize that this isn't the first time that you have critiqued their music when all that they were trying to do was share a part of their life with you. So what happens next? You are both upset: Worse is that they have the right to be upset, making you feel like crap. But what always happens: YOU MAKE IT WORSE!
REAL QUICK: Here are Five Common Ways To Make It Worse:
1. Pretend like they shouldn't be upset because they are being too "sensitive."
2. Or, they shouldn't be upset because you weren't being "serious."
3. Ask them a hundred times "Why are you so upset?" when you know they are upset because of you!
4. Start talking about how upset you are because they are upset. (This is incredibly worse if you are fighting with your significant other. No! She does not want you to be upset about her being upset because why should she feel bad for you when you made her feel bad!) If you are upset... write a blog!
5. Avoid the problem. You don't have to address the problem right away, but you should consider strategies that will both show that you are sorry for your actions and that will prevent the problem in the future: Follow the next five tips!
1. Acknowledge that you were a jerk.
Okay, you screwed up. For some reason, we humans have a terrible issue with just admitting it. We have some attitude like "Oh well, if I was a jerk, then I need to pretend like a wasn't being a jerk or avoid it because, well... I AM STUBBORN!" Just admit to your friend that you are sorry that you are being so critical of the music that they love. Simply say, "Wow, I really am not being a good friend right now. I am sorry, I really shouldn't act like such a jerk." Mean it, but don't keep going on about it: keep it simple.
2. Give them space (if that is what they want).
If your friend is heated and just wants to walk away, let them. Just pause them for a brief second. Say something like, "Hey, I just want you to know, I've been a jerk. I'm really sorry." They may still be pissed, but that is perfectly fine. They deserve to separate themselves from the situation, especially if being with you is just making things worse. Most of all, let them leave, hang-up or end the situation. You screwed up, you don't get the right to leave them hanging (that is manipulative).
3. Prepare a follow-up apology.
Sure, you let them know that you are sorry, but what does your friend really want? It is likely that they want to be able to share their love for music with you, and they want to feel safe to do so without being attacked. Spend some time thinking about how you acted; come up with a good way to express to them both why you are sorry and how you are going to avoid being a jerk next time. For example, "Hey, I am really sorry about being a jerk back there. I actually feel fortunate to have such a great friend who shares his music with me. Next time, I will focus more on listening to what you have to say rather than acting like an arrogant know-it-all!"
4. Apologize to yourself.
Hurting your friend doesn't just affect them, it affects you and your relationship. While you deserve to feel negative, you don't deserve to repeat the actions that made you feel that way. Spend a bit of time with yourself and promise yourself that you will work on being a better friend. I promise, this will benefit you in every relationship you will ever have.
5. Practice Practice Practice!
The truth: You will likely be a jerk many times in you life. We all screw up, and we all act in ways outside of who we really want to be, especially to our friends and family because we see them a lot. So instead of sulking about how you often "ruin the moment," make a goal to improve. Every time you act like a jerk, you get the opportunity to respond to the situation with these steps. And if you continue to do so, your relationships will likely improve, and you, your friends, your family and everyone you meet will be much happier!
I hope that this helps many of us better our relationships and connections. Also, if you have an awesome story about a time where you were being a jerk, feel free to share it in the comment section!