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I'm currently an IT student in college, and I encounter an issue with a friend of mine.

Each year, a teacher gives to students, projects topics, and he dispatches them according to wishes that students give, from an algorithm.

Unfortunately, this year, all didn't happen as students wanted to : a lot of them didn't get their right wish, so there was a lot of discontentment. Despite the fact that I got the topic that I wished, I was also angry for them. Some of them decided to complain to him, that's where my friend intervenes.

He told me that he was going to talk with that teacher, so he did, well violently. My friend interrupted the teacher during his class, He made an outburst, by telling us that he was underestimating us, and so that we had to react...

I didn't want to watch that scene, I was scared by the violence of my friend, and I was afraid that he would be severely punished. After his doings, He left the lecture room, and he told us that he didn't want to be our friend anymore, because none of us did support him on his actions, and unlike us (some of my other friends were also dissatisfied by their subjects), he wasn't a coward, and that he said what he wanted in the end. He is now with other colleagues that weren't in that lecture room, and according to them, we shouldn't talk to him, that he is feeling better without our presence, and that we are bad mouthing him behind his back, which is not true of course.

One week after that incident, he didn't change : he is still avoiding us, and I still feel that loss. Because I have a timid personality, I assume that I was weak to prevent that incident, that I didn't say to him that I wouldn't support his actions if it would come to violence. I really want to apologize about what happened, but I don't know what to say, because I'm afraid that he would overreact again. Some of my friends didn't feel that guilt since they witnessed his behavior during that incident.

I would like you to help me to find the right words, by telling the truth, that, despite the fact that I didn't want to support him, I would like to stay friends with him.

Sorry for my bad English by the way.

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    Hello, welcome to IPS! Asking random strangers on the internet how you should feel after this situation is somewhat hard to answer accurately. Is there something you want to communicate to the friend or the teacher regarding this situation? We can help suggest interpersonal solutions for that once you decide what your course of action is. We don't want any mishap to happen if we were to tell you what to do and how to feel. I hope this helps! Check out our questions meta and the tour page! – ElizB Jan 30 at 0:04
  • @ElizB Thank you for your help. I just wanted to say to my friend that I'm sorry that it came to this way, that I was weak for not having said that I wouldn't support his actions, or that I should prevent that incident. But if I admit that truth, I'm afraid that he would consider that I wasn't a true friend to him, so it would hurt him more. – J. Azbrest Jan 30 at 0:16
  • Could you possibly clarify. You say "so he did, well violently." and "I was scared by the violence of my friend" this would normally imply your friend physically hit and attacked the teacher over the matter, could you clarify if this was the case or if your friend merely had an angry or aggressive tone, as this effects the situation greatly. – Vality Jan 30 at 20:14
  • @Vality Violence was verbal and not physical : I didn't expect some such violence from my friend to a teacher. The latter is known to be demonstrative, a bit bad-tempered, but not specifically violent, especially on teachers. – J. Azbrest Feb 2 at 13:13
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An important interpersonal skill in any relationship is empathy. You may be a different personality type to your friend - you call yourself "timid", and perhaps you think you are not capable of the outburst he made - but we all succumb to our emotions at times and do not act like our normal selves. Although I do not condone "violence" or violent outbursts either, I can understand how your friend came to act this way. He felt strongly, not only for himself, but for you and others too, and this weight of responsibility and emotion possibly overreached him. If you can try and understand that too it will help in your approaching him.

There are two confused issues here, and you need to separate them. Firstly there is the cause that you and your friend were equally upset about regarding your project topics. You felt the same way about that, so you can agree with your friend there. What you don't agree with is his approach - the way he went about expressing this to the teacher. These are two different issues.

Your friend feels betrayed because he stood up for the issue you agree on, but then found that neither you nor anyone else stood with him. He doesn't appreciate the difference between the two issues. You need to explain to him that you do fully support him and appreciate his standing up for you, but it was his approach/method that you could not agree with. If you show some understanding of why he maybe acted that way and express yourself in a non-judgemental way this might win him over.

You could perhaps say something like:

I'm sorry that you feel I didn't support you when you stood up to the teacher for us. It took me by surprise because I did not expect you to act the way that you did. I want you to know that I fully support and appreciate what you were trying to say; I just think you got carried away by it all and I just didn't agree with the way you acted, although I can understand you felt strongly about it.

He may accept that, or he may try and argue points that have remained on his mind. Be a good listener, but rather than dwell on the past, try to move forward. If there is still something to be done about the project issues, perhaps you could suggest planning a peaceful way to address it together?

  • You've made a very good approach, thank you a lot for your answer. – J. Azbrest Jan 30 at 17:39
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An important interpersonal skill between friends is holding one another accountable. Friends support each other, yes, but real friends also tell one another when they're doing something wrong. It's possible to do both.

How to repair this? It all depends on both parties. First of all, he needs some time to cool off. Obviously he's still angry because you didn't join him, and he feels unsupported. Once that happens, however, I think you are on the right path. Putting aside your personality, I've found that being honest with people is generally the best way to work things out.

In this case, I'd approach him and say what's on your mind. "Hey [friend]; I'm sorry I couldn't support you publicly. I'd still like to be friends with you if we can." Don't explain yourself unless he asks for it - too many times people try to explain their actions and wind up trying to convince others of the rightness of their position rather than just explain their reasoning. And even if you do explain yourself, I'd suggest framing it as "right idea, not my approach" rather than arguing about his outburst. I've done so in the past and it's sometimes worked and sometimes my former friend revealed that they expected me to follow them blindly - which isn't friendship (to me).

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