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Friendship: how to deal with nicknames and boundaries?

Hello guys,

First, I want to express my gratitude to all of you who helped me in the past few months regarding my work situation, especially Lucio for providing this environment. I could improve my social intelligence a lot and now I have way fewer problems at work.

Now, my challenge is in friendships. I have now a group of friends that keeps expanding with whom I do hikes, board games and drinks. So, I improved my social life a lot. In my line of work, we have irregular schedules. So I also found that without being synchronised with most people (5 workdsays, 2 days off) I will have a bad social life. I found that it's important for me so I'll make career choices while taking this into account. For instance, I'm really reconsidering NOT to go into the emergency field which has irregular schedules, night shifts, week-ends and evenings. Anyway, this is the current context for me.

I already told about people mispronouncing my name. A friend of mine told me not to care that I was making unimportant things important. He advised me only to tell how to pronounce my name right only to people I would get closer to. What do you think of that advice?

Also, in this new group of friends the dynamic is changing as I will take the leadership of course. However, in the mean time I'm being challenged by the current leader of the group: the friend who introduced me to the 2 other friends. These are really cool guys and I have a good connection with them.

However, he's pulling a few power moves on me.

First power move: when we played at the first game, I got lucky at some point. And there's an expression which I don't like which they use among the group to say that you have "pussy" to mean you're lucky. So they said: "That's John's pussy" and they said a few times and it was ok. However, when we saw each other again he started it again and they followed. After some time I told them I did not like it and they made it seem like they respected my boundaries, which is a good sign for these people. However, I can see that my friend is a bit insecure and that he thinks he knows more than he actually do. He won't admit it of course, but he likes to compete/stay in control. It's ok. So I could enforce my boundaries with assertion. However, I waited a bit to do so and I had letting them use this expression towards me because I was afraid by being assertive they would see it as an insecurity and a button they could push to get a reaction out of me. It is, I admit I have an insecurity in being called a girl, which I'm not.

Second power move: He started calling me "My John" to which I started to answer "My A.". I don't like it to be called "My..." I find it condescending. I'm 13 years older than him but he does not treat me with the due respect of age difference. I already noticed this in the past. For some people at a certain age you must have this this and that. If you don't, you are a loser or weird. I think he thinks that of me. Or maybe I'm projecting. Whatever the case, there's clearly a power dynamics between us and that is how it manifests itself. He knows I'm going to take over the group. I know it might sound like I'm being a dick. However, that's just what I do. I lead groups. It's part of my character and mindset. Tomorrow I'm going to ask him if he can call me just "John" as I prefer it.

What do you think about this situation?

I think he feels threatened so should I make him relax?

So basically after having learned how to set boundaries at work, I'm learning to set boundaries in friendship. This is something I failed to do in the past. I invite people and cook for them and we did amazing games and had a great time. So I know I bring a lot of value.

On a final note I noticed how people judge one another value not only for the job you do (it's cool to have a friend who's a helicopter pilot) but also on the hobbies you have. So I'm working on having better hobbies for myself first. So, I really have to dial the job down, otherwise I will have an amazing career while being lonely and sad 🙁 (half-joking tone).

To improve my friendships, I also have to deal with removing the passive-agressiveness that I have left in me.

Thanks a lot!

PS: I just realized that we're probably in an ego war. So my plan is to turn up the listening, build a collaborative frame and take up on the judge role through positive reinforcement with my listening. And also be more flexible with his suggestions. To lead by letting him lead.

PSS: I also noticed that he tends to create competitive frame. One of his two friends, they're clearly rivals. I think he has not yet learned that comparing oneself to other people is a choice. And most of the time it's disempowering.

Hey John,

Thanks for the kind words and congrats on the approach of looking at the positives of what you've already achieved: it's so easy to get lost on what one is still lacking when you're driven and on a self-development (war)path.

Lots of interesting threads here.

To keep manageable and to stay with the "subject line - one topic, one question", I'll address the issue in the subject in this reply.
If you are also interested in name pronunciation, the friendship power dynamics in this group, or the strategies to take the leadership -all three very interesting topics-, feel free to copy-paste from this same post and open a new thread.

About the nickname, your initial intuition was correct, within certain group dynamics.
As a rule of thumb:

If the dynamics of the groups are very one-upping, it's best not to show your buttons, or the one-uppers can seize upon it like hyenas.
But if the dynamics are more collaborative, then be direct about what you like or don't like as soon as possible.

The second option is usually superior, of course, and if you have power and influence, or want to take the risk, I'd definitely recommend the latter.
You simply show them a better and higher road to deal with each other and, if they are worthy value-adding people, they will follow you, appreciate you all the more for it... And you've take a big step towards the leadership of that same group.

So both in the pussy case and in the "my John", I'd approach it this way:

  1. If it was in jest, do a one-up back the first time out, so you don't seem too touchy (male group have some one-upping games sometimes, it's acceptable and expected to joke around)
  2. If it happens again, let it slip once or twice, you want to make sure it's a trend, rather than just a joke
  3. If he keeps on going, then go direct / assertive about it

Personally, one issue I have with many assertiveness books is that they often make assertive boundaries-drawing this big of a deal.
Like telling to someone "I need to talk to you a minute" or "I thought about this, and.. ".

These approaches all overblow the matter, increase the chances of breaking rapport, and make you seem less natural and spontaneous.

Instead, you want to make it as natural and smooth as possible.

Like the next time someone makes the pussy joke, you pause for a second, then add:

You: Hey man, when you call me like that, it feels like you're trying to one-up me or something. The first time it was funny, but repeated over and over it feels offensive

With the pussy you can go more direct, since it is more annoying.

But with the "my John" I'd be more, since it's far more covert (calibration).
Personally, I'd wait a bit before addressing it more directly, and I'd "neutralize" it with other various power re-establishing measures.

It's possible indeed that he sees his grasp on the leadership grow more tenous, and he's making an (unconscious) last-ditch effort.
And once you're the de-facto leader, then you will not be dealing with those power moves anymore.

If I'd have to address assertively, then I'd stop even shorter, like:

You: Hey man, when you call me like that, it feels like you're trying to one-up me or something.

I wouldn't complete the sentence with things like "and it makes me feel like... " or "and I'd wish you to stop", but let it sit like that, see if he reaches the conclusion on his own.

If not, then you keep on going:

Yeah, I mean (<- "I mean makes it seem natural and spontaneous), it feels a bit confrontational. I'd rather you call me just "John".

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Thanks a lot for your elaborate answer!

To keep manageable and to stay with the "subject line - one topic, one question", I'll address the issue in the subject in this reply.
If you are also interested in name pronunciation, the friendship power dynamics in this group, or the strategies to take the leadership -all three very interesting topics-, feel free to copy-paste from this same post and open a new thread.

Thanks for reminding me the rules! Definitely!

But with the "my John" I'd be more, since it's far more covert (calibration).

Is there a word missing here?

So both in the pussy case and in the "my John", I'd approach it this way:

  1. If it was in jest, do a one-up back the first time out, so you don't seem too touchy (male group have some one-upping games sometimes, it's acceptable and expected to joke around)
  2. If it happens again, let it slip once or twice, you want to make sure it's a trend, rather than just a joke
  3. If he keeps on going, then go direct / assertive about it

I did 2 and 3. I did not one-up, thanks for the suggestion! Yes it was in jest.

If the dynamics of the groups are very one-upping, it's best not to show your buttons, or the one-uppers can seize upon it like hyenas.
But if the dynamics are more collaborative, then be direct about what you like or don't like as soon as possible.

Key concept. This group is in-between. It's really positive, intelligent, fun-loving, genuine guys. On the other hand, there is "who's the best" underlying tone between 2 of the guys. They're also people who like to win. So I would say it's exactly as you said earlier. It's just about treating one another with more respect. When I was their age I was way more clueless than them in this regard BTW. But I learned new ways and I think life is way more agreeable when we behave like this. B. (one of the 3) told me that he had depression at some point and that's when he learned about positivity, from this moment he always challenged himself to think positively. So overall good signs.

This is also something I learned about social life: you have to start somewhere and work on yourself. Then you meet higher quality people and these people want to hang out with you because you offer positivity and value through various means. And then you work on yourself and then you meet higher quality people. I am very loyal in friendship. However, this is something I still have trouble with: Friendship is context-dependent. Friendship are alliances and depend on your life stage, mentality, socio-economic level, etc. You can genuinely bond with somebody and stay friend for life. But it's rather the exception than the norm. Just because we move and change. That's why I hang out with younger people. It's because we are at the same stage of life despite me being older: Stage 2->3: Exploration->Commitment. I'll stop here before rambling.

Personally, one issue I have with many assertiveness books is that they often make assertive boundaries-drawing this big of a deal.

Like telling to someone "I need to talk to you a minute" or "I thought about this, and.. ".

I agree and that was my mistake in the past. Your post about micro-aggressions and calibration solved that for me. So when I said that it was bothering me I said it on the same tone of the conversation with everyone around the table and we moved on. If assertion is done well, it's seamless and devoid of guilt-tripping or shaming.

And once you're the de-facto leader, then you will not be dealing with those power moves anymore.

Great point.

You: Hey man, when you call me like that, it feels like you're trying to one-up me or something.

Kaboom. Perfect male friend to male friend talk.

Thank you very much! Once more, I think these answers are golden nuggets and should end up in your book/PU. Because they are the typical challenges one faces. I think you could make like an FAQ based on these questions as they do fit into categories.

Quote from John Freeman on November 21, 2020, 11:53 pm

Thank you very much! Once more, I think these answers are golden nuggets and should end up in your book/PU. Because they are the typical challenges one faces. I think you could make like an FAQ based on these questions as they do fit into categories.

Interesting idea, John.

You mean something like a post with a list of questions and faster answers, one after the other?

 

 

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Hello Lucio,

What I mean is that you collect all the answers from you to questions asked by us. Then you organize it by theme and you’ve got a book. That’s what Jocko did with his book “leadership strategy and tactics”.

Basically, it’s the answer to questions asked about his first book. Because many situations fall in the same categories. There is a fine-tuning for certain situations but you can address it.
“How do I do ...?”

Examples:

How to deal with a friend who makes fun of you in front of your friend?

if you are acquaintances...

if you are close...

if you want the value he brings...

etc.
you see my point. Our questions give you cases that you can address as general cases with the concepts you recommend and sentence structures you recommend.