How to Address a Successful Friend’s Change for the Worse Without Seeming Envious

An enemy of two individuals who’ve matched in interest and personality is the ever-moving process of change.

The odds of friendships surviving life’s trials and changes decrease with time. Since both individuals undergo change, the likelihood that one of those changes doesn’t mesh with the other individual’s personality traits seems high in the long run.

As you have gotten older, you’ve noticed most of the past friends you made downgrade to acquaintances, then fizzle out to strangers once again.

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These regressions are mostly consequences of time but can be a result of action taken, and decisions made, by the individuals at play. Your friends will change in personality and habit with time. As someone witnessing their attempts to change and improve, your support is key when their attempts are positive.

Your guidance is as important as support however. A friend’s change for the worse is difficult to stand by and say nothing about. Especially if those negative changes come in the face of success in other realms, your friends may equate their successes to be results of the negative changes they adopt in life.

This article is about addressing negative changes your friends undergo without seeming jealous or envious of their success.


Set Aside Their Positive Results by Acknowledging Them Head On


A straightforward conversation about a friend’s adoption of negative traits over time isn’t easy to start. To communicate the notion that you’re seeking to speak seriously with them, the things you preface this interaction with are key.

Your friend’s successes are likely mentioned to them constantly. They’re either directly or indirectly implied in almost every conversation your friends take part in with other friends and acquaintances of theirs.

Whether they’ve been promoted to a leadership position in a thriving corporation or have successfully started their own business, the things they do to earn a fruitful living are often squeezed into their social picture.

The beginning of your interaction with your friend’s who’ve maybe allowed success to excuse their bad behavior will begin much the same.

Your mentioning of your friend’s successes in the beginning if your dialogue about their changes for the worse should:

  1. Attempt to dissuade your friend from considering your dialogue to be fueled by envy.
  2. Frame the conversation of their changes for the worse in the context of protecting their success in their chosen profession.

Your goals in this step of the process are to simply explain how proud you are of their successes, and that you’re always going to act in ways which help them further achieve the goals they set. Exude a sense of being legitimately invested in their success.


Don’t Label the Changes You Address, Simply Describe Them


Understanding the difference between a label and a description is important in this case and in many other social situations.

A label is final; it’s set in stone. Whilst a description is an aide in change. It’s an observation of someone’s journey toward the negative, not their arrival.

When you begin getting to the meat and potatoes of someone’s negative changes, focus on their journey toward whatever negative place they’ve arrived at.

Describe how they’ve acted prior, not how they are by nature. Describe what they did, not what they tend to do. Describe what you didn’t find to be pleasant yesterday but not what you find off putting about them today.

The goal in this step of this process is to make their changes for the worse seem temporary and fixable. A negative label which identifies someone to possess negative traits today isn’t bound to encourage change as much as it tends to encourage a defensive response.

When describing what you’ve observed, focus on packaging your observations to be easily fixable, rather than identifying the individual in question as bad or malicious.

The destination / journey difference will pay dividends as you further attempt to leverage their own disapproval of their actions. You’d give the individual in question a better opportunity to disapprove their own actions from before rather than force their hand at defending themselves in the present moment.


Focus on the Individual’s Well-Being by Assuming Their Behavior to Be a Symptom of Ongoing Troubles


As you describe what about their past behavior you found disconcerting or hurtful, ensure to make assumptions that label them to be victims of some kind.

Paint their troubling behaviors as being possible responses to troubles they’re experiencing that nobody else sympathizes with.

Communicate that you are understanding of the unlikely troubles that others call successes may have brought on to the individual you’re speaking with. Paint yourself as someone this individual can tell the problems others would mispaint as privileged to.

Perhaps they’ve fallen victim to depression or inordinate amounts of stress, and are simply releasing the pressure they feel in ways that are damaging to your relationship.

An assumption of someone’s perceived successes bringing only positive changes to their experience in life is an incorrect one to make. People who experience success, monetary or otherwise, commonly find it difficult to express their issues to others due to the assumptions that come with success.

Ensure you don’t discount the possibility of seemingly positive changes to someone’s life introducing new issues they have trouble in navigating. Offer yourself to be someone who isn’t shy to label them a victim to life’s seemingly positive changes, and be someone who is there to listen to any difficulties they’re facing.


Frame Their Changes to Have Potential Impacts on Their Success


Through their possible admission of falling victim to some of the changes in their life, you can begin introducing their recent successes as something worth protecting. Label yourself as someone who thoroughly cares for the maintenance of any positive changes in your friend’s life by drawing connections to how their recent behavior can negatively affect the things they deem important in life.

Draw connections between how your friend began treating others in recent times and how that may affect their social dealings in the domain they strive to be successful in. Touch on the dangers that developing unhealthy social habits can pose to the things your friend has worked hard in achieving.

Maintain your acknowledgement of their victimhood by suggesting that even the things they fall victim to can have further negative effects if their responses remain unchecked.

Be there as someone who is protective of the things your friends work hard to achieve while you try framing the negative behaviors you witness as being detrimental to what both of you see value in protecting.


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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.