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How to Be A Good Friend: What to Do If You’re The One Getting Fired

In a way, this post is about how to be a good friend. More importantly, though, this post is about why you should be.

Fire Your Friends: Drop the Negative People in Your Life is my #1 most popular post on this site. It gets a pretty good amount of traffic every day from people searching for:

cutting people out of your life

how to cut people out of your life

negative friends

…and a lot of other similar searches that tell me this is a problem that many people face every day. It also gives me hope that a lot of people are aware that negativity in relationships is affecting them to the point of taking action to do something about it.

My heart broke a little when I was going through some recent comments on that post…

One person wrote in saying that she is one of those negative friends, and was currently experiencing a slow exile from the life of one of her best friends. My heart really goes out for her.

I know how it is to be on the other side of the equation. I was that negative friend for a long time. There were years that I wasn’t aware of how much my complaining, self-deprecating, and all-around negative comments dragged my closest friends down.

Some people stopped talking to me, or said hurtful things in an outburst of fed-up-ness. I didn’t understand where it came from.

Now, I look back at those warnings and realize:

They were trying to save the friendship. They were trying to help.

They were so scared to hurt my feelings, they never brought it up with me because it’s such a sensitive subject. I was very negative back then and no doubt would have taken their words of concern as an attack.

Not feeling the freedom to discuss that subject with me lead to their insensitive outbursts. I don’t blame them.

How frustrated would you get, trying to help someone you love over and over, only to have them refuse to help themselves?

You can only help someone so much before they have to take the reigns. That’s where you have to step up to the plate.

I’ve lost a lot of friends from my refusal to change, and since I’ve changed my life, I’ve fired quite a few as well in cases where the tables were turned.

But being fired SUCKS.

You don’t know what to do. You don’t necessarily know why it’s happening.

So what I want to address today, is how to save a friendship if you’re feeling the threat of being phased out.

The friendships that mean the most to you are worth saving, because these people support, encourage and motivate you to be the best YOU you can be. These friends are the ones who want you to be happy, who hurt seeing you miserable.

Keep an open mind here, please, and realize that you are entirely capable of change. You just have to want it. These steps will only work for those who do.

1. Have a heart-to-heart

This is probably the hardest part of the whole process. Make sure you are alone with your friend, or at least in a setting in which you can talk openly and honestly to him/her.

Simply state that you’ve felt a change in the way they’re acting towards you and if your actions have been the cause.

Don’t accuse them of anything that would cause them to raise their defenses immediately. Keep this open and positive, with the intention of speaking and acting from a place of love.

The reason you want to bring this up is not to scold them into keeping you as a friend, but to genuinely learn what it is they’d like to see from you.

•What are their concerns?

•What do they see you doing that pushes them away?

Listen to them. Let them do most of the talking; they’ll probably feel relieved that you brought it up instead of them having to do it.

2. Tell them what they mean to you

Be honest: tell them why you appreciate them.

Do they support you when you’re feeling down?

Do they make you feel loved?

Do they encourage you to grow?

Do you have a fun time with them?

Do you feel like you can talk to them more openly than to other people?

Let them know exactly why you want to save the friendship. Obviously, this person means enough to you to open up to them completely.

3. Ask them what you can do, and determine if it’s in line with your personal values/goals

What actions are they looking for you to take?

Be prepared for them to surprise you with suggestions.

Their answers can be interpreted as either hurtful or helpful. It’s all about how you determine to process them.

How does that align with your values and goals?

Some questions to consider for yourself:

Is it a priority to you to have supportive friendships?

Is changing the only way you’ll be able to retain positive, loving relationships?

More than likely, if this friend is someone who truly is a positive inspiration in your life, she will be telling you things that you already know you should be doing to create happiness in your life.

This just may be the swift kick in the ass you needed to start taking those actions…

4. DO something about it

Friends on the edge of pushing you away completely want to see you take action, they don’t want to hear words of repentance.

SHOW them that you want to change.

If you have determined that the actions they’ve suggested are in line with who you want to be, then start taking small steps at a time.

Make This Your Moment is full of suggestions on how to reframe your mindset and start down the road of leading a more positive life. Other good resources include Breaking Down Your Goals or How Can You Get There? Well, How Did You Get HERE?


•Realize that not all friends will be able to sympathize with your situation. Maybe this friend is either a) not the person to talk to about the situation that bothers you, or b) not the friend for you if she can’t support you the way you need.

•Don’t give up your values. If she asks you to take actions you don’t feel comfortable with or aren’t in line with what you want in life, don’t take them. Just be prepared to move on without her friendship.

•Be prepared for her to tell you that she doesn’t want this friendship anymore and there’s nothing you can do about it. It sucks, but it might just be too late to save this one.

•It’s not an attack, and it’s not your friend’s fault if she wants to protect herself by pushing you away. As I say in Fire Your Friends, negative friends can be draining.

•You are worthy of friends who treat you with love and respect. Don’t keep this one just because you feel like you should.

The most important thing to remember is that you can change your life.

No amount of complaining, self-deprecation or sh**-talking is going to make your life better. Right here and now, you have to take the reigns. You have to take action.

So what’s it going to be?

Many of us at Strong Inside Out have cut out a friend or two, and had it happen to us as well. Since this is a community that supports each other, I’d love to make this more of a conversation than a lecture…

In the comments below, share any tips or advice you would give someone going through this type of situation.

Your comment could help someone else live a happier life. Don’t be shy! Help a fellow SIO-er out!

Make sure to read up on these similar posts: Fire Your Friends: Drop the Negative People in Your Life and After Firing Friends: Dealing with Regret, as well as my recent guest post on The Change Blog, How to Make Space For Happiness: Fire Your Friends.

pics: 1, 2, 3

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24 responses to “How to Be A Good Friend: What to Do If You’re The One Getting Fired”

  1. Monica says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. It’s as if it was meant to be. Just this morning I got through the final phase of the longest friend breakup of my life. A year ago I suffered a seizure and I had to have brain sugery. My best friend saw me have that seizure at work and i didn’t go back to work for 3 months. When i did, she could not look at me at times. She made it seem like she didn’t even care that i was back. I was so hurt i couldn’t speak to her anymore. She went on like nothing happened while i was swallowed by the pain for months. I finally wrote her a letter last week telling her exactly how she made me feel. I admit i may have been hard on her. She responded saying that she didn’t see things the way i did and since we work together she wanted to know how to “help” me deal with her presence. I got so angry. I felt like she disregarded everything i had told her. I emailed her today saying that i didn’t need her help. That i wanted to regain control of my emotions and that i was tired of her dominating everthing between us with her loud, uninhibited personality. She retorted by accusing me of playing games with my emotional antics. That i was toxic. She said she wanted nothing to do with me anymore. I never said that I wanted to regain our friendship. All i had wanted was for her to know how i felt; that we may never agree on what happened but that i still felt the pain of it; that i wanted to put it to rest at last. i think we mutually fired each other today. i told her that it was not an antic and thanked her for her time. The hard part now is that we have mutual friends and i often feel so insecure that i feel i’m in a competition with her for their attention. i’m afraid they’ll fire me. i hope i can move past this.

    • Amy says:

      Hi, Monica. Thanks for opening up here. I hope your story can help other readers that are going through similar scenarios.

      It sounds like you’ve been through a LOT in the past couple of months. It’s tricky because you are at work and there’s no sure way to get around seeing her, but at least you’ve made your boundaries clear.

      When it comes to your mutual friendships, you can either wait and see what happens, or broach the subject with them on your own terms. Neither choice is wrong; it’s just about what you would prefer to do.

      Stay strong. Sounds like you’re doing a great job at it. :)

  2. Great post!
    Another possible tip:
    – Listen to your inner voice. Even if your friend thinks that a certain way is the best for you, be respectful and thankful, but tell him/her that you need your space and follow what you believe it is the best for you. Sometimes, people have to understand that everyone as is own timing about decisions in life. It´s true that, sometimes, they have to listen the true and be “awaked”, but in other situations, it´s not worth pressing anybody. And if it a true friend, he will understand, because he/she knows you!

    • Amy says:

      Great tip, Silvia! Pushing people to make decisions has its place, but not everyone is ready to deal with it. Not everyone will be open enough to hear that they need to change.

      Though pushing people is tough sometimes because when you do, you risk putting them on the defensive, true friends will encourage you to reach your full potential. True friends will have a hard time seeing you unhappy with your current situation, and urge you to change it.

      There is a balance to be found between encouraging and shoving people into action. Depending on the personality, one might work better than the other.

  3. Monica says:

    Thanks guys. Our friends know that i’m very sensitive about the situation so they try not bring it up. The problem is more with me i guess. The other girl is the complete opposite of me. Loud, bubbly, outgoing. She can talk to them for hours. I feel like they don’t have time for me after that.

    I need to stop feeling like its a competition. Easier said than done but i’ll work on that.

    As for her, she made it very clear that she is perfectly happy being who she is and she is not willing to change for anybody. She does not like to deal with hard situations and would rather ignore them. This is not the first time it happened. I have made my peace with that. I cannot change anybody else but me.

  4. Paula says:

    It was only after reading your post on toxic folks that I realized how many good folks most likely were missed as I wasted time on the ones I should have walked on. I have finally begun to make the changes, putting myself first and releasing myself from guilt for not coddling these individuals who frankly didn’t have my best interests at heart. I am a bad judge of character at times and have that “make it work no matter what” attitude. I must say I am happier now. It is kind of sad to think that the post is your most popular. Lots of hurt folks out there.

    • Amy says:

      It’s sad, but also good to know that people are taking that step to put themselves first. It’s important to recognize that not all “friends” are worth keeping.

      Happy to hear that you’re realizing that for yourself now, too, Paula. It think it’s a great step in a more positive direction. :)

  5. giggles says:

    i have a friend that i fired,and i still go to school with her,and i would love her to read this so we both can understand how we really feel,as this article has spoken to me greatly!how would you suggest going about it?

  6. Suzanne says:

    This post is a little bit old, but I thought I’d comment, anyway.
    My office has been going through a reorganization and my co-worker/friend hasn’t been dealing with it well. The instability of our workplace has been more than he can handle. He’s very insecure and paranoid and has been bringing all his concerns to me. “What do you think Boss A will do? Why did Manager B not smile at me this morning? Is Coworker C trying to get me fired?” This morning I finally said STOP IT. I can’t reassure you, I’m not your therapist. You need help. Well, it turned out that last night he had done some self-harm, and me not being the soft shoulder I usually am this morning prompted him to go get the psychiatric help he needs. I’m so glad I finally stopped this pattern, because I really couldn’t help him and it could have had a very bad outcome.

    Thanks for your words of encouragement. I don’t want to fire this friend, and hopefully I won’t have to.

    • Amy says:

      Telling a friend to reach out for help is one of the most supportive things you can do. I’m really glad you did. You may have saved his life. :)

  7. Cindy says:

    What if you are the one getting fired, but you are the mother of the one firing and you have no clue as to why this is happening because you love your daughter very much and this hurts very much?

    • Amy says:

      That’s a toughie, Cindy. Honestly, I’ve never been through anything like that, so I’m spitballing here: maybe she just needs space right now. The best thing you can do if she won’t give you an answer, is to let her be and take her time to heal.

      Beware of big changes in her life, though. If she’s pushing EVERYONE away, it could be a sign that she’s falling into depression. Have you tried talking to her about it?

      It must hurt a great deal, and I’m so sorry you have to go through this right now. Hopefully, she will come around and at least tell you why she’s giving you the cold shoulder.

  8. Kyle says:

    Hi I recently moved up in my high schools band program and am now in the wind ensemble class. Most would be absolutely ecstatic, but the friends that I had that were in Wind Ensemble last year seem to completely ignore me now and I feel ostracized. To go along with this my best friend of somewhere around 10 years, well has “replaced” me with one of our mutual friends. I could say more but this is getting long and I just don’t know what to do with myself. Help.

    • Amy says:

      Hey Kyle!

      Oof. That’s tough. This should be a really great thing that you’ve moved up! It means they recognize your talent, right? As far as friends go, are there any new friends in your new program you could start talking to? How about in any other classes? This might help get your mind off of it.

      This will get better. The beginning of the year can be hard with all this change, but it will settle. :)

  9. online friend says:

    This concerns an online friendship. Over a year ago I had a big falling out with a friend initiated over something he said online which I was hurt by, it snowballed, lots was said on both sides, good and bad, in the course of all this I uncovered that he had told a whopping great lie to me about his past – I knew he knew I’d found out but instead of discussing it I told him I wouldn’t be in touch again. We exchanged polite goodbyes and that was that for a time. Then a mutual friend got very ill and through this I got in touch with him. Cue another blow up, he vented a lot of anger at me in an email then emailed a few days later full of apologies, admitting his lie and regretting it. I forgave him and tried very hard to see where he was coming from. Without divulging his privacy regarding his lie, I believe he is a good person who has had some problems in his life and although we have never met I was fond of him.

    Last few times he has emailed it has been many months apart and each time the email has been short saying very little, I reply fairly quickly but he doesn’t reply for months and then states that he hasn’t heard from me in a long time!! I’m confused, if he’s dropping me I wish he’d be honest about it. I’ve tried to be a good friend to him and don’t know where I went wrong because he won’t tell me.

  10. Pink says:

    I am wondering how it would be with people who are cut off because of their depression and other mental illnesses.

    As one who have experienced this, my heart shattered into million pieces knowing that I will never have the same relationship with those people who I considered a friend once. I do understand that people just have too much on their plate as well. But one thing I’ve realized all over the years, when you’re in big trouble, that’s when you know who truly love you. I am not saying that they have to drown along with me. I’m working on improving myself, one day at a time. :)

    It’s a long shot. Still healing…Because of this experience, it will be very hard for me to trust people once again.

    • Amy says:

      It is tough when this happens to you, and it’s even tougher to open up again. What I use to motivate me is this: I refuse to let that person who cut me out dictate the good relationships I want to have for the rest of my life. They don’t deserve that power over you and your happiness. Open up for your own sake, and know that there are trustworthy people out there who will have your back.

  11. MH says:

    It would be nice if a post addressed the following: When the negative friend fires the positive friend.

    It’s not firing the negative people. It’ s not being the negative friend who is fired.

    Rather, when the negative friend A insults the other friend B and doesn’t want to talk, when B constantly tries to have a two-way conversation and address misunderstandings, and then claims that friend B is negative by trying to still talk about the situation and thus wants to cut the friendship because A doesn’t need the ‘negativity’ that B is causing, which is laughable to say the least, and ironic.

    When A honestly thinks that B is at fault when it is clear to even A’s own kin that A is in the wrong. Yet B, despite having a slew of insults thrown their way, really tried their best to have a conversation that A kept refusing to have, while insulting B’s intentions and family even. What is the response to such a situation?

  12. MH says:

    I also thought it might be worth adding, that A always vents to friend B about all the problems in her life, to which B always provides encouragement and support, and words of advice that A takes heartily. And now A say all this crap about B and cuts B off. Like what?

  13. MH says:

    Why should B be in this position at all?

  14. Shel y says:

    You see, I am becoming that person.

    I have really awful anxiety, and a severe fear of losing friendships because of past problems. My best friend has made some new friends that he wants to hang out with all of the time instead of me. It doesn’t help that he really likes one of the girls, which makes him want to spend time with her even more.

    I will admit that I might have brought this on myself. With anxiety, there are times at which I can’t calm myself down and I need reassurance that he is still my friend. It has been pretty constant with the fact that he will soon be departing for Basic training. That makes me very negative and a bit of a cry baby. With the current situation, it is even worse.

    It’s always been a fear of mine that he will one day realize there are people in this world that don’t need reassurance like I do, that they can just be content with the fact he is in their life. And I am. But he’s a hard person to read and gets irritated quickly, so I never know if he’s actually angry or not. Which doesn’t help.

    Now, he barely seems to want to talk to me. I’ve tried to have a serious conversation with him, but he won’t see me face to face to have it in person, so it ends up being very short and very hostile. I leave the conversation feeling even worse than when I started, and I am trying so hard to talk to him and stop being upset, but it’s very difficult when he leaves in less than 3 weeks and I feel as if I am losing him. That he is pushing me away.

    Please help.

    • Amy says:

      I’m so sorry you’re experiencing that right now. When we cling to people who might be moving in another direction, it often repels them. It sounds like you’re in that situation right now. If I were in your shoes, I might write him a loving email and then give him some space. It sounds like that’s what he needs, and so if you really love him, you have to respect that. While this relationship resolves itself, it might be sign to start healing the fear of losing friends and the need for reassurance to enrich your future friendships. Take all this with a grain of salt, as I’m not aware of the full relationship. Sending you much love and light!

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