For more back story, see here. I was asked to a meeting with 2 people from a group of friends I hangout with. The subject was complex. I believe we all respect each other and value direct, open communication. However maybe we have personality traits that don't really go along.

One person (call him Joe) said he notices a friction between us and wants to figure out how to move forward without it. I am mostly aware of the friction Joe refers to. I am ok with ignoring it, but getting rid of it would be better. The way I responded was telling Joe things he does that bothers me. I guess this wasn't the best approach. He got mad at me. One example is I asked Joe to be more positive and supportive. He said I'm a millennial who needs/wants to be spoken to in a certain way and I expect a prize for everything. (after more thought it would have been better to ask him not to make wise-cracks as that's more specific)

A lot from the meeting I'm still trying to interpret but I'll keep the focus narrow in this question.

If you ask someone to speak to you in a certain way and they say no, how can friction still be reduced?

Joe also said I don't take feedback well and always argue with his observations and request. I guess a solution is to not always reply if I disagree with something.

At a high level, Joe talked to me in a way that made me feel cornered. For example how he just said to me "I notice friction between us and want to get rid of it", how else could I have replied without telling the things he does that bug me?

Or at the start of the meeting he said he was getting apprehensive energy from me. I told him the truth that I felt uncomfortable being asked to a meeting without knowing the subject. I still found his question uncomfortable.

  • 1
    There is a good question here, but it probably needs an edit to move it away from just a "phrasing" question - as those aren't on topic Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 9:14
  • Hey there hectorpepper! I believe your question is currently primarily opinion-based and too broad. We can't tell you "where you should go from there". You have to decide what is the outcome you wish and then we could help you figure out a way to achieve that.
    – Ael
    Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 9:19
  • Keeping it to your narrow question and in addition to the comment by Ælis, could you give more details on what the "certain way" is? I. e. what is it that is being said to you, how do you want it to change?
    – jnfingerle
    Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 16:47
  • besides what you stated, were you rude when you talked to him? Like did you say "you are a grump bastard that is always telling me what to do, please stop"? Could you give a couple of examples of exactly what you said. Also when he says that you always argue his advice, what kind of advice does he give and what do you say to him?
    – Mykazuki
    Commented Dec 1, 2019 at 19:50
  • Also is Joe just a friend or is he your boss?
    – Mykazuki
    Commented Dec 1, 2019 at 19:53

1 Answer 1


Joe also said I don't take feedback well

Maybe other people have different opinions about this, but if that is what he thinks, you need to respect that. please keep in mind that we, as people, take feedback differently from different people. Think about how you take feedback from your family, your professors, from friends you trust, from people you hate, and from strangers. Even if they tell you exactly the same things, your feelings will be (most likely) different.

and always argue with his observations and request

That is very likely. Not necessarily because there is something wrong with you. We as people are mostly defensive, when we hear something we no not like, we try to give explanations why that happened or why it is not true. It happens to almost everybody, and a change of behavior / attitude about this required active practice.

I guess a solution is to not always reply if I disagree with something.

That is one of the best things you can do. Even more: when you disagree, ask questions so the other person goes deeper into the details. Ask them to provide examples of what happened and when did it happen. Also, ask them how they would prefer you to behave in such circumstances. The thank them for the information they provided to you, and take your time to think about it. You might need a few minutes, but it might happen that you need moths or years. It depends on many details.

So overall, my feeling is that you need to understand more how to provide and receive feedback. There is a good chance that your friend needs the same, too.

This site seems to provide better information on feedback compared to the other sites (without doing a very thorough research).

The "science" of feedback is quite huge, and it touches several other sciences. Therefore, an in-depth explanation of the subject is difficult to be done here.

What I do in the situations that I receive feedback

  • I listen to what the people tell me, and make the necessary effort to actually understand what they mean;
  • if something is not clear, I ask questions for clarification (as I explained above);
  • if I get angry based on what I hear, I take a few seconds of silence, to control my emotions, and not let them take over; when I am in control again, I ask questions for clarification;

Occasionally, I might say:

I was not aware that I have this behavior


I do not remember saying that...

However, that is the most that I do as a "defense". Also, I continue asking the person to try to remind me of the details. Additionally, I ask the person to help me in the future, and tell me about the said issue right after it happens, so I can "see myself" and be able to judge it and eventually correct it.

Please note that sometimes I take active initiative to request feedback, especially when I get to a new environment, or I have a feeling that something might go in the wrong direction.

If you ask someone to speak to you in a certain way and they say no, where do you go from there?

The easiest alternative is to let people speak in any way they want. As long as you understand what they say, communication happens.

I had a colleague who was swearing a lot while talking. Not angry, not directed at someone specific, but only as a way of speaking. After several weeks / months, I took the initiative in a friendly way, asking him to at least swear less, if he could not stop entirely. Not only that he took it without offense, but he made my initiative a part of his speeches:

I know that (virolino) will be upset that I swear, but ...

and he continued in his own way. I did my part, he did not care. I preferred to remain good colleagues and friends, rather than force him to be something that he could not be.

For example how he just said to me "I notice friction between us and want to get rid of it", how else could I have replied without telling the things he does that bug me?

That is a good example of what I was recommended above. Instead of providing an active answer, go the "passive" way, like:

  • Will you please explain what friction means?
  • When do you notice this friction happen more (frequently)?
  • What can I do to help getting rid of this friction?

Maybe he is entirely right in his statements. Maybe he is only partially right. Or maybe he is not at all right. But you still win: you understand his point of view, and you can adapt your behavior and our questions in a way that will not make him angry. And quite possible, he will understand where he is wrong, and will improve also.

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