Don’t ever confuse politeness with agreement. Have you ever been pressured by a friend or an acquaintance to jump onboard with something that they are passionate about? I seem to get this a lot. While I am happy for others who have found something they absolutely love, I can’t possibly sail away on every ship in the sea! After all, I have my own ship to navigate! I would love to shore up everyone with encouragement but I’ve learned that seems to send conflicting signals.
Ok, enough with the sailing metaphors. Do you know people like this that push and push constantly? I try to be supportive and positive for them because I can plainly see their belief in and passion for what they do. I applaud them for working hard and living what they believe. But occasionally, my moral support gets mistaken for a desire to endorse and join the team. It makes for dangerous waters. (ok, sorry, I know I said no more sailing metaphors) How can one remain friends with a person that will not take a polite but subtle “no” for an answer?
I want to be clear that I am not talking about my friends who share their passion with me and allow me to support their endeavors with encouragement. I have many friends who work tirelessly to realize their dreams and who share their adventures and opportunities with me. I always appreciate the invitation that says, “Please join me even though I know you aren’t interested in pursuing my passion, I would just like to see your smiling face there.” When they say there is no pressure to join, I can believe them. I want to be there for them! These friends understand that I wish success for them but they don’t expect me to facilitate it.
This all comes back to setting boundaries, which I have previously written about. Some people will absolutely try to take advantage of a person if it looks like there may be an opening. They just don’t get the subtle way that you are telling them “no”. You must be painfully blunt and firm with these people or they will continue to pursue you.
Perhaps the real reason that they continue to chase you is that they don’t want to believe you. Or, they think that you are easy prey and they can change your mind. I’ve even had people try to corner me and separate me from the pack in order to try one last time to get me onboard. I guess they thought my answer would change if I were alone. I don’t even want to go into how rude and disrespectful that is. Like I said, I might not be rocking the boat but that doesn’t mean I’m ready to set sail!
When I get pushed into a corner I am forced to address things in a less polite manner. That’s when it becomes awkward and the friendship suffers. If you give people enough time, they will show you who they really are. Sometimes, we are disappointed.
The question that is begging to be asked here is: Are these people REALLY your friend? Would a genuine friend push you to the point that it becomes awkward? I don’t think so. When people like this come in and out of your life so abruptly, brush it off. They were never your real friends to start with.