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CS: being thrown under the bus by a friend

Hello everyone,

Here is an interesting case study I think.

Context

Last week, my friend Bernard and I were at the restaurant with my friend Frank. The waitress comes and I ask her where she's from out of curiosity. He feels not at ease and makes fun of me for asking. Basically throwing me under the bus. There was 2 such instances in the same hour or so when I was chatting in a friendly way with the waiter or waitress when he made fun of me because of the interaction in front of the person.

So after the waitress left. I confronted him and said he threw me under the bus 3 times, giving him the examples and saying it was not cool. He says that the way I asked her made her feel embarrassed. He seems quite pissed off due to his angry gaze. He said that I should tell him while it happens and not after the fact. So I say to him that it's ok I let it go. I think his remark was unfair as it was right away after the fact that I told him. I asked the waitress in front of me and she was a bit surprised of my question as for her there was no problem at all me asking (I ask respectfully and politely of course).

Yesterday, we were both at his place playing a video game and drinking, having fun. We took a Uber, I ask the driver where he's from and he's not at ease so he throws me under the bus again. The driver was totally fine with me asking. He said that he did not understand why someone would get pissed off when asked about their origins. He was proud from where he was coming from and I learned about a dish from Congo (Kwanga) that I'm looking forward to find and taste!

At this point, you might have understood that I love to ask where people come from. 99% of the times, it is totally fine and opens a conversation. Sometimes I will share my own origins, sometimes not depending on the conversation. I think people like that we're interested in them, whether it's their hobbies, their origins or family. It's about the context and how it's done of course.

So we took the Uber and went out to my favourite bar and drank some more. Then he says that he thought all week about me and what happened and he was hurt. So I ask him to listen to me about what I felt. He could not do it. He was only thinking about his own experience. So I let it go. I apologised at least 20 times (drunken and hard-headed, could not even hear my apologies) to repair the relationship and his ego.

After a long time, he tells me that at the same restaurant earlier (when I was in the restrooms) he had a negative feed-back on his behaviour (another situation) from Frank. And that was the second one in one evening. He also tells me that what actually hurt him was the public nature of the feed-back (in front of Frank) that hurt him.

So I make sure he feels alright, does not get an apology from him (or an implied one: "I apologised" whereas he did not, so past sentence on a behaviour that he did not do: "Imaginary apology".

To him, he was afraid that for me I would see him as an asshole and as Anthony the value taker. Which is totally not the case.

I also told him that I was part on a forum where we give feed-back to learn and that sometimes my feed-backs could be inappropriate (context error: because the person is not in self-development mode).

He also explained to me that in France if you ask where people are from (black, arab, etc.) they get offended and answer they are French. So it's viewed as racism. I tell him that even if they answer they're French, then it opens a new conversation: Where were they born? Where did they grow up? As the goal is to know the person. It does not matter at all where they're from. We ask when somebody seems coming from another country. In my mouth, it's a compliment as I'm curious about their culture, etc.

Analysis

He sees me as high-value and I have judge power relating to him. He was very hurt by my remark even if said respectfully and diplomatically. He thought about it for a week as for me it was a small thing.

When he feels not at ease in a social situation, he alleviates his anxiety by throwing the person under the bus. I told him he did again but he's not aware of this and does not seem to want to be aware of it despite the repeated feed-backs.

He has a fragile ego or at least not anti-fragile: for him when I gave him the feed-back, when he felt that having a behaviour that was perceived as negative made him (the whole person) as an asshole, when he could not apologise

He's quite self-centered: I tried to tell him in every way how I felt (hurt) when he did these remarks. He was not willing to listen to me. So I had to take the burden of apologising in a situation when he actually hurt me. I gave value to him through a feed-back but to him it's not value because it's hurting his image. He's not narcissistic though but quite self-centered.

To me he took value from me several times:

  1. When he threw me under the bus
  2. When he actually was pissed against me for having told him that he threw me under the bus
  3. When he kind of forced me to apologise 20 times for this (forced in the way that repairing the relationship was only on me)

He's not taking responsibility: he says that he's hurt because:

  1. He says that it's because I should tell him as it happens: and that's what happens
  2. It's because the feed-back was public: with this one I agree

So next time I will take him to the side and tell him.

I respected him more for having told me what he felt.

I respected him more for having told me that he loves me (reciprocal) so we do have a true friendship.

I respected him less for asking me to apologise while not reciprocating.

I respected him less for not being curious about the situations that I don't like and not asking questions.

I see now that he's not going to be a self-development buddy. We share many things but not this love of growth. He's able and does introspect but not to the same extent.

I had to reassure him of my friendship as I think he was afraid I did not like him anymore (not true at all, did not change a thing to me, it's just a behaviour, not about his whole character).

Conclusion

So overall, I learned a lot about him, our friendship and I think the bond is better and we will communicate better in the future. If I remember more elements, I might add something later. To make things clear I do consider him a close friend. This is an analysis of a pattern through him of course.

Also it's in these conflicts that you get to see the real person. I am a believer that you don't know well someone until you have a conflict with them.

This also showed me the value of this forum as it's a rare place where we can grow that much.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Interesting case study indeed, thank you for sharing John.

I'd be curious to read about the actual interaction / words when he threw you under the bus with the waitress and uber driver.

After he explained that in France it can be considered racist to ask someone where they're from, I can understand him a bit more -it might also be a liberal/progressive type of hang-up where people are overly cautious around political correctness, virtue signaling on open-mindedness, "diversity and inclusion" and the likes-.

Personally, I'm aware that "where are you from" can be a loaded question to some, so I sometimes get there in indirect ways, for example:

  • I like your accent, it sounds like (name of an area, or few countries)
  • You know, you look a bit X, I was there just recently

Or I ask directly, then something like this:

  • Hey, you know, you made me curious, may I ask where you're originally from

Originally is also power protecting, since it sub-communicates a starting point of a journey, and that you will not put them in a box of country stereotypes, something that many people are wary of.
Then right after, I share some more or say how cool it is to re-empower them (getting information from others after a question is power up for you, but not for them) and to show that you're not going to stereotype them.

John Freeman has reacted to this post.
John Freeman
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thank you very much for your answer, Lucio! You're welcome.

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on September 18, 2022, 10:50 pm

I'd be curious to read about the actual interaction / words when he threw you under the bus with the waitress and uber driver.

Unfortunately, I waited too long before writing it down so I don't remember the exact words.

It might also be a liberal/progressive type of hang-up where people are overly cautious around political correctness, virtue signaling on open-mindedness, "diversity and inclusion" and the likes-.

I think there's definitely an element of that.

Personally, I'm aware that "where are you from" can be a loaded question to some, so I sometimes get there in indirect ways, for example:

  • I like your accent, it sounds like (name of an area, or few countries)
  • You know, you look a bit X, I was there just recently

Or I ask directly, then something like this:

  • Hey, you know, you made me curious, may I ask where you're originally from

In my notes. Definitely pre-framing the question as positive is the way-to-go.

Another way to do this is when the person answers, to responds positively:

Me: Excuse me, I'm curious. I see the children are mixed, may I ask where the father is from?

Mother (wondering what is the intention behind is): Ivory coast

Me: Great! (big genuine smile)

Mother: HUGE SMILE (smile of the week/month)

Originally is also power protecting, since it sub-communicates a starting point of a journey, and that you will not put them in a box of country stereotypes, something that many people are wary of.

Subtle and respectful. Socially-savvy!

Then right after, I share some more or say how cool it is to re-empower them (getting information from others after a question is power up for you, but not for them) and to show that you're not going to stereotype them.

I'm also doing the same. This opens up a conversation or an appreciation.

Thanks for this exchange! 🙂

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