What would you do if someone you really liked and felt close to gave public praise to your enemy?
My neighbor asked me that question at our morning coffee chat. It rather surprised me, for I can not imagine my neighbor having any enemies. She explained that this "enemy" was once part of a conspiracy to discredit her (my neighbor) publicly, and that a good friend she has known a long time suddenly comes out with glowing praise for this "enemy". I told my neighbor the best thing to do would be to just let it go. It is possible, I suggested, that her good friend knows nothing about the incident when "enemy" once tried to damage her image. What would you do in this situation?
If the "enemy" did something good and deserves the praise, if I heard the other person praising them, I'd probably also congratulate the person. I work with people I don't like and wouldn't trust with a secret or my life, but I'm more than happy when they do something good. Why hold a grudge that tight? Being nice to someone doesn't mean you have to be friends with them or trust them again.
You can't have too many friends. And who needs more negatives in their life. You were able to look at this situation from the outside a bit and made the right call. Let it go is exactly what she ought to do, especially if the friend turns out not to have known about the "enemy."
This would not be an act of treason in my opinion especially if the praise was for a specific action or behavior the friend observed.
No one is one dimensional. It's possible for a "bad person" to do some good things. Time and time again we hear in news stories about mass murderers whose next door neighbors are shocked when the truth is revealed about them. Oftentimes they'll say things like; "Everybody liked him. He was the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off of his back if you needed it."
Unless your neighbor's friend is aware of the "two faced" personality they're only left to access this person by what (they) know.
Having said that there are instances where a friend will tell another they dislike someone without giving a valid reason and they automatically expect their friend to dislike them as well. When this does not happen they view it as a betrayal.
Long ago I personally witnessed this in the workplace. A man was generally rude to one woman and treated the other woman kindly. The woman who received harsh treatment expected her friend to hate the man even though he was always exceptionally nice to her.
"In order to be my friend my enemies must also be your enemies." When it's laid out like that it clearly seems immature.
In my mind what happened between someone else and myself has nothing to do with my friend. It wouldn't matter to me that my friend is a friend of my enemy. I can't stop someone else from liking the person I dislike. Some people aren't all bad and maybe they did you wrong, however, in someone else's eye they are a great person. So she should just let it go. What she could do is tell her friend what happened and how she feels about her talking about the person in her presence. Personally, it wouldn't matter to me and I probably would have forgiven the person anyway.
Hi. As a therapist I get this question from time to time and as with most things ... it depends.
If the good friend extolling the virtues of an "enemy" had no plans to make her a good buddy, I'd let it go.
However ... if this so-called "enemy" could prove a backstabber, I would calmly and honestly relate my experience with this person to give her a heads up.
Let me compare it. If you knew an individual tended to "lift" things from her friends' homes, would you not warn someone you cared about? The nature of the offense is such that a calm simple telling of the facts with a "but it may not happen to you ... it's just my story" would be in order.
Marnie Macauley can be reached at Liveperson.
Thank you everyone for your participation and answers. It was hard to choose just one. However, I will use all your thoughts to share with my neighbor. I think it will help her a lot. She still seems a bit jealous and hurt by the whole thing -- you have provided me with some very good thoughts for her. Thanks again, very much.
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