5 Steps for Dealing with a Bossy Friend

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“Hey, girl!” you say. “Sorry it took me so long to answer the phone. My little one is just being impossible today!”

“He’s probably tired,” she says with that tone. “I know when Jake goes to bed too late, he’s like that. You need to have him bed by 8 tonight.”

You might hold the phone and think, I don’t remember asking her what she thought.

Most of us have probably been in this situation at some point. Once in a while, this type of interaction with a friend is harmless.

But if is the regular routine of your interactions with one friend, it’s time to evaluate the relationship.

5 Steps for Dealing with a Bossy Friend

A healthy friendship should benefit both members of the relationship, with both walking away from a conversation or interaction feeling better than they did when they entered it.

If you walk away from your friend feeling like you’ve been given orders, it’s time to make some adjustments.

1. Recognize that there is some type of misunderstanding between you and your friend.

Somewhere along the way, your friend received a signal from you that you were seeking or needing her advice.

This does not mean it is somehow your fault. Maybe you simply wanted to always be nice to her and kept quiet about your lack of appreciation for her advice. Maybe she interpreted your silence as acceptance.

Ask yourself the honest questions: How long have I been allowing this type of behavior from her? What have I said (or not said) to make her think I want to hear her opinions about my life?

2. Listen to what she is saying.

Are her tips irrelevant to the happy life you are leading?

Or, is she offering her advice because she sees real problems in your life and worries about you?

There are major differences in these two situations, and it may be time for you to consider the possibility that she’s onto something important.

“The drug abuse is ruining you” is far different from “You put too much creamer in your coffee.”

(Another great way to answer this question is to consider what the other people close to you say. If you are getting the same type of advice from other people who love you, it could be relevant to your life. Don’t shrug this off!)

3. Listen to what you are saying and watch your reactions.

Is there something in the tone of your voice that she interprets as, “I need your help”?

Do you then act on what she tells you to do?

If you’re not sure what you’re saying to provoke her responses, ask her! You don’t have to be rude or offensive. Simply say, “Becky, I’ve been wondering about something. You offer your advice a lot and sometimes I just want a listening ear. Am I saying something that makes you feel like I need to make improvements in my life?”

If you’re doing what she tells you even though you resent her orders, stop!

4. Consider your friend, the person.

After you have thought about the interactions, think about why she acts this way.

Is she like this with everyone? If so, this behavior is likely part of her personality. In this case, she will have to fix herself.

Or, is she only like this with you? If so, what makes your relationship different from her relationships with others?

If this is the case, you must consider the “why” question. Is she inferior in other relationships in her life? Does she try to make up for those feelings by bossing you around?

By uncovering her motives, you’ll be able to get a better understanding of why this is happening and how (or if) you should address it.

5. Make the Tough Decision

Is this friendship worth enough to you that you want to fix it?

If so, don’t let anxiety over the confrontation stop you from talking to her. A friend will understand.

And if she values the friendship as much as you do, she will listen to what you have to say and consider your point of view. Just remember, to stay calm no matter how she reacts.

If you don’t feel like the relationship is worth it, maybe it’s time to end it.

No, break-ups aren’t just for romantic couples. A friendship split can be clean and gentle for you if you handle it properly and maturely.

If it comes to this, simply remember that you cannot control her reaction to what you are saying. You can only control you. And only you should control you.

Isn’t that how you ended up here at Step 5 in the first place?

Because I love you,


(“fingers holding a note” Image Courtesy of Richard Lau)

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