How to Talk to People Who’ve Let You Down

The feeling of being let down by those who we’ve put our trust in is more disappointing than it is angering.

The disappointment comes from expecting your reality to play out in a way which it does not. The closer you are to the person who has let you down, the more disappointing it is. The specifics of the letdown can be labeled as secondary in importance to who it was that let you down. Some letdowns can motivate you to reanalyze where someone stands in your perception of who you call close. Some let downs can motivate you to unhinge from, argue with, and even fight against someone’s influence on your reality.

This article hopes to encourage you to do none of the above. Dealing with letdowns is tough, and is dependent on the many unique particulars of the situation you find yourself in. There may however, be guidelines which are applicable to the varying situations of those who read this. The writings below aim to communicate some of these guidelines.

Communicate the Effect of Their Letdown Implicitly

Once you discover someone else’s act of letting you down, in whatever form that presents itself, you’ll feel a desire to voice exactly how they’ve let you down and what effect that had on your life. Refrain from doing so. If the goal is to make someone understand the effect their letdown had on you, them seeing evidence of that effect is more powerful than you voicing your opinion about it. Communicate their effect on your day without emotion by simply explaining the fact of the matter. If for example, someone promised to give you a ride to the airport prior to your trip but bailed last minute, then communicating the effect that had on you can simply include the following, “Okay no worries, I’ll just have to call an Uber.” In that particular example, the effect of their letdown entailed you having to call, and pay, for an Uber ride.

Other letdowns can be more severe. For example, if your son comes home with a note from their teacher explaining that he’s failing the course, then it’d be difficult to not want to exclaim your disappointment. Explicit communication of your disappointment however, is less likely to cause lasting change in his behavior than showing him how his behavior affects you. In this example, the effective thing to do seems to attempt to play a role in getting your son back on track. It will include you spending a couple hours after work helping your son get through homework. You may even spend money on a tutor, and establish a communication channel with the teacher of the course. Your son would notice your attempts and your level of dedication toward his learning. Rather than feeling the wrath of punishment, he’d be likelier to feel regret for your discomfort in going out of your way to help. Motivating a sense of regret in the person who has let you down, is the most you can hope for in situations of being let down by them.

If a letdown is severe enough for you to end interaction with the person in question, the doing just that is sufficient in communicating the effect their let down had on you. Do not go out with your guns blazing in an effort to cause them a similar level of pain that they’ve caused you. Rather, simply take action which is based in the information that their letdown provided, which in this case would entail retreating from your relationship with that individual.

Explicit communication of how you feel about others’ letdowns will increase the likelihood of a rebuttal, an argument breaking out, and reminders of times you’ve let the other party down yourself. Attempt to communicate others’ effect in letting you down in an implicit manner by showing them the outcome of their letdown rather than emotionally explaining how you feel about it.

The Way to Limit Being Let Down by Others, Is to Not Be a Letdown Yourself

You may think that stopping someone from letting you down involves some sort of an intervention. However, the method which works best it seems, is continuing to be a reliable entity in their life. Do not seek revenge and attempt to let down those who’ve let you down prior. Rather, aim to increase how reliable they perceive you to be. Be there for them when they need you without fail, and establish a reputation of being a reliable entity in their lives.

By doing so, you’d serve to make them feel indebted to you. This concept is akin to the exchange of presents. The nature of the gifts we give to others is influenced by the gifts we’ve received from them in the past. The more someone has given us, the more we will give back to them. Use this concept in your attempts to make those who let you down more reliable. Be there for them, and don’t adopt their ways. The starting point in this exercise, is forgiving them for letting you down.

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Disclaimer of Opinion: This article is presented only as opinion. It does not make any scientific, factual, or legal claims in any way.