“I don’t think you like me.”
This bold declaration was brought to my attention by an acquaintance recently.
“Why?” I asked. I’ll admit – I was taken off-guard. I didn’t have any reason not to like this person. In fact, I didn’t know this person well enough on a personal level to even merit an opinion.
“Because whenever I talk about something important that concerns us all, you question my judgement,” she answered.
This is true. I do ask questions when a conversation concerns me and my family. Maybe my opinions differ because I don’t have all the information. Maybe if I gain more insight we could find common ground.
“How many times has this happened?” I asked.
“Three times,” she immediately answered, and then went on to describe each specific situation while counting on her fingers to be sure she included them all.
She has been an acquaintance for five years. In five years, I have questioned her philosophies three times. I took a deep breath to ward off the judgmental insult.
“You’re right. I did ask you questions those three times. Just because I don’t agree with you right away doesn’t mean I don’t like you. It just means that I respect you enough to have a conversation about our difference of opinions,” I tried to explain.
“Well, I just thought maybe you didn’t trust me,” she said.
“It’s quite the opposite actually,” I told her. “I trusted you would be able to handle the conversation, so I decided to speak up. It wasn’t my goal to change your mind. I was offering you the opportunity to change mine.”
I’m not gonna lie – I walked away from this conversation irritated. I hate it when people make false assumptions about me.
I am a friendly person, but I don’t jump right into friendship. I’m selective about who I open up to, basing my decision on a whole plethora of things. For example, do we have anything in common? Can we both communicate fairly while sharing the roles of listener and speaker? Are we able to offer each other differing opinions or advice without taking offense? Would our friendship be a positive addition to the rest of my family?
As these questions answer themselves over time, a natural friendship either will or will not develop. In the meantime I will be very cordial, but I won’t go out of my way to establish false pretenses because I don’t think that’s honest or fair.
But if you assume I don’t like you just because I don’t always agree with you? Chances are we weren’t a good match from the start.