One easy way to avoid being 'slimed' during a conversation with a friend

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Pic: Flat Icon

Have you ever felt that feeling of being 'slimed' after talking with a friend? I used to have a (very) good friend that it happened with all the time. I noticed it when they repeatedly talked with me about the weight of the world on their shoulders and it sounded like they were ready to make a change. But then, the next time I saw her, it was the same old stuff. Again. It used to sneak up on me. One moment I would be right in that moment with her, practically cheering her on, then a dawning realisation. This doesn't feel right. I'd finish up the conversation and as I would walk away from her, I would feel, well.... slimy. I hadn't been lifted up or energised by the conversation, in fact I felt tarnished or tainted. 

And I wondered why. For years afterwards. Even after the friendship ended, I wondered about that feeling.

Until another friend offered me the following advice. Assuming you are reading this because you too have been 'slimed', consider this.  Your friend isn't ready to make the change.

Therefore on some level you know or feel the mismatch of your energies. You are problem solving like a boss and they are listening but not ready/willing to make the change. You are working harder than they are, and the sliminess is your body telling you the conversation is out of balance.

Think about a boat sailing to a new destination (i.e. The 'new' world). As an outsider or bystander it seems clear to you the benefits of getting on that boat and getting going. So when your friend talks at length about getting on the boat but never actually sails anywhere, the energy you invested in the conversation is disproportionate to the felt experience. That is, you gave more to that conversation than was used or perhaps appreciated. Hence your feeling of slimy-ness.

There is a trick to avoiding these conversations. It comes from recognising where a person is at in terms of being ready to make a change, and meeting them there. It's estimated that 80% of people talking about a change are not ready for action. So chances are you are a sounding board. Ergo: Don't over invest.

You will know to invest more heavily in the conversation when someone brings you two or more concrete options they are thinking of choosing. They have moved into action and out of contemplation stage. Offer your advice and invest more now. Your friend might still move back to contemplation stages but it is less likely. The difference is in the energy. Someone who is ready for action will take personal responsibility - hence you will never feel slimy, because you haven't taken on more responsibility that you should. You haven't over invested.

How do you manage to stay connected but not over-invest?