How to Talk to a Friend About Their Risky Behavior

Опубликовал Admin
12-05-2021, 08:30
Watching someone you love slowly self-destruct is one of the most difficult situations imaginable. Often just as challenging is the act of confronting your friend about their behavior. Clearly you don't want to hurt your friend, and you probably realize there is a chance you may lose their friendship. If you don't say something, however, you will likely regret your choice if your friend is hurt as a result of their choices. You can increase your chances of having a successful and positive talk with your friend if you prepare for the meeting, choose the appropriate time to have the talk, and plan out what you are going to say.

Choosing the Appropriate Time

  1. Talk to your friend when you are both clear-minded. The best time to speak with someone about their behavior is when you are both stress-free, in good moods and not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, it may be difficult to find the time for a conversation when you are both at your absolute best. Still, you should try to initiate the conversation during a time when you think your friend will be more receptive.
    • For instance, avoid talking while you are out drinking with each other. Also, try not to talk to your friend when they've had a particularly rough day or are overly stressed about something, if possible.
  2. Speak with your friend about the risky behavior soon after it happens. Talking to your friend after they exhibit the behavior in question has more of an impact than waiting a substantial amount of time to point out their actions. They may forget what happened, or may not feel as emotionally attached to it if they have time to get over what occurred. As soon as you can, confront them about the situation.
    • If you feel like your friend's risky behavior is potentially life-threatening and may be putting them or others into harm's way, don't wait to confront them. For example, if you're sure that your friend has been driving while intoxicated, talk to them about it immediately.
    • If you are unable to address the behavior when it happens, keep a log of your friend's behavior. Write down the day and time the behavior occurred, and what your friend did. Having solid evidence in front of them may make them take your concern more seriously.
  3. Be honest when you share your concerns. As important as it is to point out the issue right away, it's also important not to sugarcoat it. You may try to minimize what's happening so you don't offend your friend, but downplaying risky behavior could lead to negative consequences. Be straightforward and honest with your friend about what happened.
    • Try saying, “I watched the way you behaved last night and it really concerned me. Do you know why you behaved in that way?” Don't say, "You were wild last night!" since this could be misconstrued as approval rather than concern.
    • Also, Avoid accusing your friend of anything and focus on what concerned you.
  4. Research possible solutions prior to speaking to your friend. Part of the benefit of planning your approach is the opportunity to conduct some research. If you don't take the time to research and brainstorm ways your friend can receive help with the behavior, the meeting won't have as much of an impact. Your friend may want to come up with solutions together with you, and that's fine, but you'll want to have some of the work already completed before you hold the meeting.
    • If you're afraid your friend is addicted to drugs or alcohol, look into treatment options and support groups that may help. If you believe the behavior is due to a medical condition, talk to health care professionals about what can be done.

Talking to Your Friend

  1. Place the concern on yourself. Avoid going into the meeting by telling your friend everything they are doing wrong. Your friend is likely to become more defensive if they feel you are attacking them rather than wanting to help them. By making it seem like the meeting is more about how you feel instead of that you are upset by their behavior, they may feel less stressed and more willing to make a change.
    • For example, use “I” statements like, “I am concerned about you missing work so much,” “I am worried about how much you've been drinking lately,” or “I want to offer my support for you and help you with whatever you are going through.” By starting your sentences with “I,” you avoid placing blame and show that the reason for your talk is because you care and are concerned.
  2. Talk about the consequences. People who live in the moment rarely worry about what's going to happen down the road. As such, they may have a “lightbulb moment” when you point out what their behavior is going to cost them. They may not realize it right away, but spelling out the consequences gives them something to think about, which may be what finally gets them to stop hurting themselves.
    • If your friend has a drug or alcohol problem, say “I am worried that your drug or alcohol use will not only hurt your health, but could cause you to lose your job or even put you in jail.”
    • If the risky behavior has to do with sexual choices, tell your friend “I am concerned that you have unsafe sex with people and that you may end up with a disease or an unwanted pregnancy because of it.” Again, start your sentences with “I,” and also be clear of the dangers this behavior can result in.
  3. Ask your friend questions. Talking non-stop without giving your friend a chance to offer input may make them feel frustrated and left out. Instead, ask questions that get your friend involved. You're more likely to get a positive result out of the meeting when they feel like they have had a say.
    • Ask “what do you think?” to your friend after you discuss your concerns.
    • Be sure to ask open-ended questions. Open-ended questions are those that do not seek a “yes” or “no” answer. The more your friend talks and is open to discussion, the higher the chances are the meeting will be a success.
  4. Offer to assist them as they seek help. If your friend seems open to talking to you about solutions, propose some possible suggestions from your research. One of the first avenues for help is speaking with a professional counselor. You might help your friend research therapists in your area and even offer to accompany them to an appointment.

Preparing For Your Talk

  1. Ask yourself if you would want to be told. Before you run the risk of hurting your friendship over something trivial, first determine if you would want your friend to talk to you if you were exhibiting the same behavior. If you're not sure that you would, perhaps you should question if the behavior is really that risky. If you definitely would, then you should speak to your friend immediately about it.
    • Issues that you wouldn't want to hold your tongue about are those in which your friend may be in danger or pose a danger to others. These include drinking and driving, unprotected sex, theft or using drugs.
  2. Determine if there is a reason for the risky behavior. Before you talk to your friend, understanding why they are acting the way they are is often helpful. This allows you to go into your conversation with a clearer idea of what your friend is going through, which may provide you with more ways to help. Asking other friends or those around that person may help you figure out why they are behaving the way they are.
    • You might mention to some other friends, “I've noticed Cassidy has been going out and drinking a lot lately. Have you noticed that, too? Are you concerned?”
    • Many different psychological disorders cause people to behave in risky ways. Those with ADHD, Bipolar disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or another mental health condition may be more inclined to exhibit risky behavior.
    • Knowing if a mental health condition is the underlying reason for your friend's uncharacteristic behavior can give you ideas about how to get help, such as adjusting medication or going to see a doctor.
  3. Enlist the help of others. If you are unsure of yourself and what to say, having other people who care about your friend there with you may be helpful. Additionally, asking a school counselor or addiction specialist to speak with your friend is beneficial, particularly if drinking or drug use is your concern. Professionals can answer questions and offer support that you may not be able to, and they are experienced in having these types of meetings, which may help things to stay calm and productive.
    • You'll need to take your friend's personality into consideration when planning the meeting. If they are deeply private or even paranoid, they may react better to a one-on-one conversation. Having a group of people there may make them become defensive.
    • If you witness your friend doing something extremely risky and dangerous, such as doubling their narcotic prescription, you may need to enlist the help of law enforcement and/or EMS. If you tell your friend to stop and they don't listen, call 9-1-1. Receiving assistance in this way is the best option in extreme situations. This will ensure their safety, your safety, and the safety of anyone else who is involved.
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