HI, CAROLYN: “Alex” is married to one of my closest friends, “Lana,” and Alex and I work at the same company. Recently my husband “Ben” also joined the same place. Lana has tried to get a job at our company several times, but for one reason or another has been unsuccessful. Still, she has a great job at another company that anyone would kill to have.
A few months ago I sent an email to Lana, Alex and Ben — probably some silly story from the internet — as I have often done in the past. There was some banter between Alex and Ben and they mentioned meeting for lunch. At this, Lana sent a petulant reply asking us to take her off the email CC list because it “sucked being reminded that” she “was the only one not in the promised land.” It effectively shut down the friendly conversation.
I feel that Lana acted childishly, and I hoped she would acknowledge her immature behavior after having time to think about it, but that hasn’t happened.
Now I am hesitant to send any common emails because I don’t want her to lash out at us again. As a result, we don’t really communicate much anymore and I feel like that’s affecting our friendship. Any thoughts on how to tackle the situation?
DEAR UNSURE: Yes. Chill! Embrace the concept of the mulligan.
OK, Lana was petulant. But I read the question twice, and she apparently had a single outburst. And in response to that one outburst, you’re calling Lana immature, you’re holding a grudge against her for not apologizing, you’ve stopped the email chatter and you’re essentially freezing her out as a friend.
Do those consequences sound proportionate to you?
Have you ever lost your composure?
Maybe this all makes more sense in the broader context of Lana that we can’t capture in a short Q and A, and if so, then so be it — but if that’s the case, then the issue is that Lana is a pain and not that Lana lost her composure in a friendly email exchange.
Short of that, as I said: mulligan. A free do-over for a poorly played shot. It’s a beautiful concept among friends, and a necessary one given the human propensity to go batbleep nuts occasionally over something minor that leaves everyone saying, huh?
Try it. “Huh?” Or even better — “Sorry, didn’t mean to shove lunch in your face,” or just asking if she needs a sympathetic ear about something — sensitivity! empathy! — and move on.
If it’s a larger problem, it will reveal itself — that is, if you don’t prevent it from becoming one by just giving Lana a break.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.