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Why You Should Be Really Grateful To The Friend Who Always Challenges You

Why You Should Be Really Grateful To The Friend Who Always Challenges You

It may seem obvious, or not so obvious to some, a friend or lover who challenges you is likely much better for you than one who always agrees with you or tells you you’re right.

 You complement each other.

Their strengths and your strengths will likely be different and will therefore complement each other. Are you great at organizing and planning, but suck at pulling the actual trigger on projects or big decisions? A friend or partner who isn’t as wobbly about taking command will inspire you to push forward, trust your gut and make decisions you might otherwise waffle on for months or years (or god forbid-a lifetime!). And you can help them by being an organized planner, when they know exactly what they want to do and are ready to do it, but could use a little more research, or a better thought out plan.

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For example, you might be the type of person who wants desperately to do something else with your life, but feels obligated to stick with the profession you have because you went to school forever and racked up student debt. You feel that you should be ‘grateful’ to have a steady paycheck. You may have researched a hundred programs that you’d like to take to attempt the new career change, but you never pulled the trigger on starting any of them. If you have a friend or partner who wants the best for you and isn’t afraid to be honest with you, they will encourage you to pursue your dreams. You may make a move sooner than you would have without them.

They stimulate our growth.

People don’t learn and grow by surrounding themselves with those identical to them who parrot their opinions, beliefs, likes, and dislikes and buffering themselves to the outside world. People learn and grow when they are stimulated or caused to stop and question things or to stand up for their own beliefs in the face of differing opinions.

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When we have to explain why we believe what we believe or want what we want, it forces us to face why (or if) we truly do believe or want what we tell ourselves we do. Often, when questioned these things over time, we find we don’t feel as strongly about these things as we thought). Yet, if left unquestioned, we tend to cling to old beliefs or ideals for no other reason than it’s what we’ve always known.

You get honest feedback even if you don’t like to hear it.

They’ll give you honest feedback or well meaning advice when you are making stupid decisions or can’t see things clearly for whatever reason (post-lust, heartbreak, or tragedy) instead of letting you barrel ahead to make decisions you will later regret.

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Like when you maybe texted a friend telling her how much you wanted to buy that oh-my-god gorgeous $400 dress even though you were broke, asking her if you should buy it. She knew you were trying to save up to pay off your school loans and that you shouldn’t be splurging now, but she still told you ‘sure you go girl! you deserve it!’ The end result -you regretted the purchase. Maybe you’ve had done it anyways, but you might not have made such an impulsive decision had it not been condoned and supported by your FF (False Friend aka enabler!)

There is a limit of course to how much of the time it’s cool for someone to question, argue/disagree with, or throw challenges at you. If someone is simply a difficult, argumentative person who tries to prove you wrong in a mean spirited ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’ way, that’s not a recipe for a good friendship or happy relationship. But, as long as they’re doing so with good intentions, or because you are important to them and they don’t want to lie to you or let you do things (or not do things) you’ll regret doing (or not doing) later, it’s healthy.

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Whether you listen to them or not, you know that you can trust this kind of person to be honest and you’ll undoubtedly learn new ways of doing or looking at things thanks to them. And vice versa.

Are you a friend like this? Do you have a friend/friends like this? Share this with someone who challenges you or who you challenge.

Featured photo credit: Matthew Wiebe via unsplash.com

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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