Dear Annie: I have shared a very close relationship with “Sue” for over 50 years. We worked together as young adults and have remained dear friends throughout the years. We work very closely at our church, as well.
I know I have annoying habits and am thankful for my friends who love me anyway. When it is just the two of us, everything is great with Sue and me. My annoyance with her is that when she is in a conversation with another person (usually casual before or after church) and I approach and wait (or try to) until they are finished, she does not glance at me or acknowledge my presence in any way. I usually just walk away.
When she and I are having a conversation in a similar situation, she’ll often stop me when I’m in the middle of saying something so she can speak with every person who passes by. Then I end up walking away because it is so distracting that I honestly can’t remember what I was saying.
I recognize this as passive-aggressive behavior, but it puzzles me that she feels the need to control me or shut me down. She is the kindest, most Christian person I know, and I don’t know whether she even realizes what she is doing. I don’t know why I am writing, because after all of these years, nothing will change. I can’t analyze my impact or my aura or how I affect other people. If I could, perhaps I would know how to avoid being blown off as unimportant or insignificant, which is how these situations make me feel.
Perhaps we are both strong personalities and this is her way of being in control. Do you have a suggestion, other than avoiding conversations when others are present? — Mary
Dear Mary: For all the talk of conversation here, it sounds as if you’ve yet to tell Sue how you feel. It’s time to change that. I really doubt that she’s consciously doing this to try to control you, so give her the benefit of the doubt when raising the topic. Use “I” statements — e.g., “I’m sure you don’t mean to do this, but when we’re in the middle of talking and you stop to speak with passers-by, I feel ignored” — as opposed to “you” statements, e.g., “You ignore me.” True friends appreciate when a friend cares enough to be honest.
Dear Annie: I want to second what “Nancy” had to say about loud music in businesses, stores and restaurants. It makes visiting with friends, which is usually the whole point of dining out, almost impossible.
I regret to add the following: A lot of today’s churches are just as loud. I attend a great, theologically solid church. I accept the contemporary music, but the blast level is pretty hard to take. I have discovered when I’ve traveled that it is the same across the country. The volume ranges from several notches above necessary to over-the-top painful. Who thinks that this contributes to an atmosphere of worship? When the instrumentalists need to wear ear protection, wouldn’t you think that would be a clue?! God is not deaf, and I don’t want to be.
Please continue to get this word out to the sound control technicians — whoever and wherever they are. — Dynah
Dear Dynah: Here’s hoping a sound tech reads this and dials down the noise. In the meantime, it might not be a bad idea to keep some earplugs handy in your purse. You can’t control external factors such as noise in stores, but you can protect yourself from long-term damage.
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