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Psychologist | Speaker | Media Expert | Workplace Consultant | Researcher

I said "yes" when I should have said "no". What do I do?

The question:


I told a friend about a job I was applying for. The opportunity excited her, and she asked if she could apply too. I said okay, but I’m really ticked now and feel like I can’t trust her. Can our friendship be salvaged?


The answer:


Let me get this straight: You tell your friend about the job that you want; she directly approaches you and asks for your permission to apply; you say yes, but now you don’t trust her?


I am confused!


I’m unclear how or why this has created a trust issue – trust is broken when one deceives, misleads or betrays us. Unless I’m missing something, none of these instances apply to this situation.


It sounds as though you are more upset with yourself than anything else, and that your frustration with the decisions you made (to tell your friend about the job, to say yes she could apply) is being projected on her. Ask yourself honestly whether the issue relates to anything your friend has done or said.


I suspect the decision you are most upset about is, in the spur of the moment, replying “okay” when she asked about applying as well.


Ask yourself why you said “okay” when you more likely meant to say “no,” so that you don’t do it again if you are ever in another similar situation.


Are you a people-pleaser who easily succumbs to others’ requests? Do you hate disappointing your friends? Do you find it uncomfortable when someone is upset with you? Once you identify what the factors are, you will know how to move forward in an effective manner.


Now, whether or not you can salvage your friendship – yes, of course you can. The best policy is honesty – you don’t want to move forward in your friendship with the elephant still in the room. Be proactive, short and to the point. Tell your friend there’s something that is bugging you, and take responsibility for your contribution. You could say something like: “I have to just put something out there about the job we both applied for. I know when you asked me about applying, I said ‘yes,’ but I realized after that I was actually super excited about the job and really wanted it. So I said ‘yes’ when I didn’t really mean it. That’s my fault, and I really respect that you asked if it was okay if you could apply. Anyway, I don’t want the job to get in the way of our friendship and I want to move on. I just wanted to let you know where I was at.”


Then, do move on. For all of us, hindsight is always 20/20. Pay attention to the lessons you have learned about yourself. And above all, don’t let a job get in the way of a friendship that you value.


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