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Help her be a friend

Vicki wrote:

My best friend has a roommate who doesn't have a lot of friends.

We try to include her in our activities but sometimes our patience runs thin. She is self-righteous and pretty critical of others (and probably herself). I know she didn't learn good friendship skills as a child, so we would like to help her.

But it's hard when she tries to fit in by making rude comments to us.

Help! How do we gracefully shake these off while letting her know that's not the way to treat people?

Dear Vicki

There's no guaranteed way, and I don't feel I know her well enough to be very specific. But the oldest and most effective way is simply to ignore that behaviour; not make an issue, not long silences - just carry on as if nothing had been said.

And when she says something sensitive and appropriate, make a point of supporting her, thanking her, agreeing ... whichever fits and will encourage the good behaviour.

But give her time; you never know, she offer an opportunity for a heart to heart on her attitude - but that must be her choice, and how she deals with it will depend on her history.

If it's just plain impossible, then you must majke the postive decision to exclude her from activities where she does harm; gentle criticism, like "we didn't invite you because last time it was clear that you and X didn't get along" - but be willing to be completely honest if she asks.

In general, what I think I'm saying, is give her the opportunity to join in, and minimise the risks of rows. But don't deceive her. Leaving things unsaid is tactful; being consciously dishonest will simply confirm to her that people cannot be trusted.

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