The Art Of Friendship
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Here's your chance to ask Roger and Sally directly about The Art of Friendship, being a better connector, and navigating the friendships in your life. Enter your queries in the form below, and they'll post the answers here periodically.

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Q: On the Today Show, you talked about "not keeping score" in friendship. But what happens when you are the only one doing any of the calling, and the other person never takes the initiative? Does this mean the other person doesn't want to be a friend, or is just too busy? Should I just get over it?
Frank K.

A: In Rule #64, we suggest you "Address an Imbalance," if something is making you unhappy or uncomfortable in a friendship. The less confrontational version might go something like this: "You know, the last few times we've gotten together, I've called you to make the plan. I know how busy you are, so why don't you call me next when it's most convenient for you." The more direct way might be to tell your friend that you're sensing a little reluctance on his/her part. You could ask, "Is something wrong?" - using your own choice of words.

In one friendship, you may decide that the one-sidedness is acceptable (your friend could be going through something, needing a break from interaction, who knows?) while another may prove too unsatisfying to continue. You'll have to decide. If it's the latter, you'll ultimately need to apply Rule #67: Learn to Let Go. Accepting the demise of a friendship means being realistic about life's ups and downs.



Q: Do you think the "art" of friendship has changed with the advent of technology?
Henry M.

A: Absolutely, but people like to blame technology for the demise of friendship; however, we think, more often than not, technology (email, social networking websites - even this "Ask the Authors" page!) technology provides amazing new ways to enhance and grow friendships. The most important thing is that we don't make use of all of these technologies to the exclusion of real, face-to-face interaction.



Q: How does friendship change when you get married?
Laura K.

A: In lots of ways. You have to balance a new kind of friendship - with your partner and your friends' partners - (with a whole host of issues and permutations and rules!) - and your existing friendships. It's an important balance to pay attention to; don't let your friendships wane just because you're in a committed relationship with a responsibility to another person, because your friends still need YOU (not you +1.) You have to make more of an effort, but having strong friendships outside of your marriage is important and rewarding.



Q: How do you make new friendships when you are extremely shy and tongue tied? I always feel so stupid when I talk to other Moms on the playground or at my Son's school. And I forget to ask them about their life? Is there a way to appear more confident than I actually am?
Jodi H.

A: It is hard to talk to people you don't know well, and I think your instinct to ask about their life is a good one (even if you forget sometimes!) Finding conversational touchstones is the key - and your children is an obvious one - and then you can find other things in common to discuss from there. Asking other mothers about child-rearing issues is always a good way to connect, because everyone has an opinion, which they're quite often thrilled to talk about, and it makes them feel important - thereby breaking down their potential barriers.

If you're able to use the above to have longer conversations, your confidence will grow, and the next time you see those mothers, you won't feel so tongue tied. It will get better and easier each time.



Q: I have a problem with give-&-take conversations, moreover it's all take & little give, they interrupt, overpower, bully - or if I do get to say anything, they "forget". I don't want to have an out-bullying match with them. So, I don't know how to be my sweet self without sacrificing & succumbing my values. What should I do?
Marcia, Soquel, CA

A:One-sided conversations and people who don't listen and interrupt can be really annoying. I'd ask yourself about those friendships in general: are you getting anything out of them? After you've considered that, if you do care about these people and maintaining the friendships, you should talk with them about the discrepancy in your exchanges with them (see Rule #64: "Address an Imbalance"). Don't be accusatory; rather, explain how it hurts your feelings not to be heard, and that you actually need their help or empathy or even simple companionship when you're with them, and, finally, that you'd like to make more of the time you spend together, so you'd like to try an experiment with your conversations (something that involves give and take!)

And then: try buying them a copy of The Art of Friendship!