Disclaimer: This is not legal advice, and is not centered around defending criminal behavior.
We find ourselves in sticky situations when a friend or acquaintance of ours doesn’t act in a respectable manner. We can’t expect those we surround ourselves with to perfectly execute the various acts and behaviors that make up a meaningful life. They’ll sometimes misspeak, they’ll sometimes hurt others, and they’ll sometimes make you feel embarrassed to be seen with them.
If you’ve made a decision to remain loyal to an individual who gets themselves in social trouble, then navigating around your desire to stand by them without adopting a malicious label is tough to do. If you defend someone you’re loyal to vehemently, your words and actions would likely be ignored by those listening on. They’ll view you as operating from an exclusively biased perspective. People listening to your portrayal of your friend in trouble will be skeptical and sometimes even angry.
This article aims to provide a framework for navigating a situation in which someone you’re loyal to, gets themselves into trouble. The overarching goal in this case, would be to protect your friend/acquaintance whilst limiting the adverse reactions which result from others’ judgement.
Acknowledge, and Stand Against, Their Troublesome Acts
It’s unlikely that your friend or acquaintance is completely innocent of something they’re being widely accused of. In the context of this article, it’ll be assumed that they’re at least a little bit in the wrong. Perhaps the reactions from the crowd of critics is a bit overblown, but even still, it’s important to be objectively honest with exactly how much at fault the receiver of your loyalty really is.
In your act of controlling the public’s reactions to the actions your friend has committed, acknowledgement should come first. Even if the reactions are overblown, first analyze the dangers in acknowledging the truth behind those overblown reactions. Objectively analyze the behavior of your friend, and voice what you personally agree with the critics about.
Remember, the goal here would be to limit the dangerous feelings and reactions of others, not to vouch for your friend’s absolute innocence. The truth of the matter may be that the reactions of those who don’t have the full story may still be dangerous to yourself and your friend. Thereby in an attempt to operate by what is true (potential for danger), you’d need to do everything in your power to limit adverse reactions others have to what may be false assumptions.
If your association with the friend in trouble is not yet known by others, make it known. Once you do, your audience will expect you to strictly defend your friend or acquaintance. To the audience’s surprise, acknowledge the things your friend has wrongly said or committed. Your acknowledgement wouldn’t just serve to say what the angry mob may want to hear, but it’ll communicate the fact that there are honest individuals in your friend’s circle. The public’s hope of their voice being honestly listened to will increase if they witness a close, yet truthfully objective, acquaintance of someone who’s done something bad.
Your Experience With the Person
Now that you’d likely dull the blade of those who are after your friend or acquaintance by making them feel listened to, it’ll come time to use the breathing room you’ve created to your advantage. Since you’ve established yourself to be close in relations to your friend, but also truthful and sound minded, your defense of the individual will be likelier to be taken seriously.
In an effort to numb the reaction to the hurtful truth of your friend’s words or actions, it’ll come time to dig into your experience with that individual. Since you two are close, you’ll likely have more intimate knowledge about this person than the angry members of the public. You’d place those listening to you in a odd cognitive scenario as you would have first agreed with their criticism and acknowledged it. Since they’d then view you as sound minded, your experience with the individual would be less likely to be covered up by perceived bias.
Whilst defending the individual in question, strictly stick to your experience with that person. Be careful saying that you know this person completely, or that you’re absolutely sure of them being a good individual. It is an impossibility to completely know someone to a point of speaking for them. Thereby the best you can do in such cases, is to always preface with: “from my experience with…”
Use your experience with the individual in question to paint what they’ve wrongly done to be an isolated incident. At this point of the juncture, their malicious acts would be publicly known and acknowledged. The angry mob however, will attempt to paint your friend with a wide brush using paint from this isolated incident. They’d try to paint your friend out to be a malicious person because they’ve completed one malicious act. They’d try to label your acquaintance as a cheater by nature, not by one misjudged circumstance.
The goal with citing your experience after acknowledging the bad things your friend has done, is to isolate their bad act, and separate it from who they are as a person. The experiences which work best are ones which show a consistent series of favorable behaviors without hiccups.
Experiences such as the following, do well: “John’s been a close family friend for over 20 years, has been over at my home, around my wife and kids, countless times. He’s never had an outburst such as this, and it’s very uncharacteristic of him.”
That experience shows that you, as an objective, factual, individual have placed yourself in vulnerable positions around your friend without things ever going wrong. You’d have gone so far as to have him around people you care for most, cooked for him, and met his extended family as well. In this example, you’d acknowledge the outburst “John” may or may not have had, but you’d do so in a balanced manner. You’d balance out one extreme side of the story with a sensible experience from someone who knows “John” intimately.
This balanced approach will do better to ease the extreme viewpoints surrounding any situation that your friends find themselves in. If you were to deny and strictly defend, the reactions of those who seek to have their truth be heard would become more extreme. By first acknowledging the public’s version of events whilst also digging deep into your extended experiences with the individual in trouble, you’ll likelier ease the desire for others to see your friend burn.
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