How to Confront a Friend About Their Destructive Behavior
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How to Confront a Friend About Their Destructive Behavior

Knowing how to help a friend who does not recognize they have a problem can be tricky. You run the risk of offending them, or aggravating a defensive response that is not helpful. However, there are methods you can use to help your friend see sense, and support them effectively.

Have you ever been in the situation where you wondered whether to confront a friend about his or her behavior? If you have, you will understand how difficult this can be. Perhaps your friend liked to binge drink, went after the wrong type of date all the time, or engaged in another type of behavior that was potentially damaging. As a friend, you could see the problem, but letting them know so you could help your pal seemed tough.

Coming straight out with your concerns may not be useful, as your friend is likely to become defensive rather than recognizing that you want to help them. Instead, consider trying one of the following approaches:

What would you do?

Tell your friend a story about someone, (a fictional character), who is engaging in the same type of destructive behavior they are, and ask them what advice they would supply to help that person.


Gather facts that provide evidence that their behavior is damaging to them. For example, if they binge drink, explore the potential medical risks involved, along with how their behavior will influence their relationships/career/family and so on.


Before talking the problem over with your friend find out where they can gain extra help and support. Of course, you will continue to be there for them, but perhaps they will need professional support or to talk with other people going through the same situation as they are.


Be prepared to help them structure a plan of recovery if you are able to get through to them. It is all very well getting them to agree that their behavior is a bad idea, but helping them stop is another matter. Depending on their problem and personality, they may respond well to help in the form of exercise, flow charts, medical treatment or a variety of other methods including finding a healthier behavior to replace the old one with.


If your friend is likely to become defensive when you talk with them, consider sharing something personal about your own behavior you wish to change, or have already altered successfully. This way you can either join in improving behavior together, or you can supply them with a true story to spur them on and achieve goals.

It is never easy telling friend information they do not want to listen to. Doing so effectively and with confidence takes planning and thought. By making sure you can offer them help, show them how to gain further support, and back-up what you are saying you are more likely than not to succeed.

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Comments (1)

It can be a tricky situation. I have been there where a work colleague was alwaays like that. We all could see it yet he was o.k at times but grumpy and mean at others. I would address it and supposedly others would too. At the end we called him Mr. Happy which broke the ice with him he would have had many problems outside work being a former soldier.