Is there any good to come out of telling someone she hurt your feelings? Or does it just get the frustration off your chest and put it on someone else’s? My family wasn’t invited to a friend’s event that was something we expected to be, and to my surprise it really bothered my husband. I would have at least liked a call about it. I feel compelled to explain this to my friend but also imagine that conversation could go off the rails.
J.G. / Brookline
Whether or not to speak up in a situation like this is such an “it depends” — but let’s see if we can’t unpack some of what it depends on.
In general, if you’re going to tell a friend they’ve hurt your feelings, it helps to know what you’re hoping for. In this case, your friend can’t retroactively invite you, so how can she make it up? What would you like to hear from her? You make an excellent point about conversations like this leaving people frustrated — often, that’s because the injured party desires more than an apology but can’t articulate what that “more” consists of. What are you hoping for? And if you don’t get it, how will you feel?
The biggest risk of these conversations isn’t necessarily a blowout fight, it’s the disappointment when you expect the other person’s behavior to change as a result and it doesn’t. How out-of-character was your friend’s faux pas? If she has a tendency to be thoughtless, one conversation may get you an apology, but no guarantee it won’t happen again.
Finally, I’m curious about your husband’s role here. How would you have handled the situation with your friend if he and his dismay weren’t factors? You say you were surprised by his reaction — have you talked to him about it? How would he answer the questions above? If she’s more your friend than his, it may make sense for you to run interference; couples do this kind of diplomacy for each other. But make sure you understand where he’s coming from before you do.
I stopped in a local chain doughnut shop late in the day for a muffin. I had a $10 bill out to pay, but the clerk said it was free. I thanked her, but I felt bad that I didn’t have anything smaller than the $10 to leave a tip. I’m not a regular that I could tip extra next time. How do I pay this forward?
C.G. / Reading
I’m not at all saying you should have, but you may tip that lavishly, if you feel so inclined. It’s not tacky or anything. You also could have asked them to break the $10 so you could leave a tip. This may feel awkward to you, but it isn’t to the servers; tipping is no mystery to them.
Post hoc, the nicest thing might be to leave a good Yelp review about the customer service at that location. (Just “customer service” — don’t go mentioning free afternoon muffins in this economy.)
Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.