My friends and I are in our mid twenties and have a small friendship group of around 6-7 of us. We have been friends since school, so for around 15 years.

More and more I have noticed scenarios where one of the group does a lot of very minor selfish actions which, as isolated incidents, are not a problem - we all do them from time to time. However these are not isolated incidents, these are frequent and consistent. For example if 7 of us walked into a bar and there were 6 seats, they would have to have one of the seats. They would also never volunteer to do anything to help the group that would inconvenience themselves in the slightest, whereas all of the other members of the group would.

I don't have any major issues with this person and I do consider them one of my closest friends, however all these displays of poor etiquette frustrate me. Also I am not the only one in the group to think this - the majority of the group agree with me.

I am usually the one to speak up and tell this person they can't always get their own way but this often results in this person getting upset and me feeling bad as a result as they probably think I am bullying them.

So how do I point out the flaws in their etiquette without sounding like I am bullying them?

Or, even better, how would I encourage my other friends, who very rarely speak up, to point out the flaws in their etiquette in order to make it seem like a group consensus rather than just my opinion?

  • 1
    Hi Jsk! I'm a bit late to this, but could you include a bit more about "how" you usually speak up? There's still a range of possibilities here, do you literally say 'you can't always get your own way' or do you try to e.g. gently try to convince them to do the inconvenient thing first?
    – Tinkeringbell
    Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 6:10
  • Have you already spoken with the other friends about your frustration? If so, were they showing support? Did they tell you why they don't speak up themself?
    – dhein
    Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 7:02
  • @dhein my other friends and I usually speak about the frustrations and they usually agree with me. I'm pretty confident that the reason they don't directly speak up themselves is to avoid any conflict
    – Jsk
    Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 9:09
  • 2
    @Tinkeringbell I usually tell them straight to the point by saying something along the lines of "you can't always get your own way" or "you can't keep doing that"
    – Jsk
    Commented Jul 20, 2020 at 9:32

1 Answer 1


Do you know the principle of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) ?

It's an approach of communication which is based on empathy : your explain what you feel and why you feel that way without blaming anyone.

I have experienced this method many times and it is often rewarding. When you express what you feel, nobody can object it. That way, your interlocutor becomes more aware to what you are saying, because he doesn't feel offended. You are not rejecting the fault, you don't get offensive, you just express your feelings about a situation.

It requires to be careful to the vocabulary you use. Typically, when you say to your friend "you can't always get your own way" or "you can't keep doing that", you reproach him his behavior. The key is to NEVER use "YOU". . Your friend will feel attacked and may not respond well (everyone has an ego).

You can find a lot of information about it on the internet, but basically here is a quote from a pdf I've found) which sums up the 4 components of NVC :

  1. Observation: Observe the situation without evaluating or judging. A pure observation is without comparison to the past.
  2. Feelings: Identify a feeling. Feelings are always related to your body, and never involve others.

This website offers some examples of feelings : Feelings Inventory. As I said, the words you use are very important.

  1. Needs: Identify your need or desire. A psychic or basic need is always about oneself, not about another, and is always a basic human quality.

Here are also examples of needs : Needs Inventory.

  1. Request: Formulating a request. Phrase a specific request positively, speaking kindly, but firmly and clearly, without unnecessary emotion such as sarcasm.

Example, NVC process : “Felix, when I (1) see socks under the coffee table I (2) feel irritated because I am needing (3) more order in the room that we share in common. (4) Would you be willing to put your socks in your room or in the washing machine? [If the response lacks clarity or seems disconnected, then request feedback.] (5) So I know that you understood me, would you tell me what you heard me say?”

I try using this method in my everyday life, at work or with my partner. This often ends with a really calm conversation, with a lot of empathy, where everyone is aware of the needs of each interlocutor and try to solve the problem.

Do not hesitate to practice this method before talking to your friend, ask for advice and opinion.

I hope this can help you.

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