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DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a 25-year-old woman, and I work in finance at a bank. I’m struggling to manage a relationship with a co-worker. A colleague I once considered a friend has become increasingly competitive and seems to be undermining my work. We used to collaborate effectively and share great conversations. However, things have taken a sharp turn. It may have something to do with the fact that I was just promoted from analyst to senior analyst while they stayed in the same position after our yearly reviews.
I’m unsure how to handle this change in our relationship. Confronting them might worsen the situation, but ignoring their behavior doesn’t seem right either. How can I address this without jeopardizing our professional environment or our past friendship? I value the work we do and want to maintain a positive relationship, but I’m at a loss about how to navigate this situation. — No Longer Friends
DEAR NO LONGER FRIENDS: One of the toughest transitions to navigate in a friendship is a status change. That includes one friend getting a promotion, getting married, moving or otherwise changing their role in life and, therefore, in their friendship dynamic. This is where you are.
You can speak to your friend with compassion and acknowledge the obvious: Your role at work has changed. While you are grateful, it concerns you that your relationship with them has changed, too. Note that it seems to have gone from friendly to competitive, loving to caustic. Ask your friend if there is a chance for you two to rekindle your bond. It may take time, but you both have to want it and must be willing to work on it. It may also mean you agree not to talk about work with each other.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am not the best at handling conflict, and I hold a grudge. I recently had an issue with a friend, and I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt by agreeing to talk it out. I no longer want to be friends with this girl, but we are in the same social circles, so I would like to be cordial with little awkwardness. We were at the same party this weekend, and it was friendly. She asked to speak the next day but did not follow up. Three weeks have passed since our falling-out because she keeps rescheduling our conversation. At this point, I cannot see any good coming from having a talk about not wanting to be her friend. We have not been friends for about a month, and it is going fine. Do you think that anything productive could come out of a conversation, or should I leave it alone? — Productive Convos
DEAR PRODUCTIVE CONVOS: If you have the relationship that you now want with this person, be content with that. Cordiality can be enough. It may also naturally evolve into something else over time. There’s no need to rehash what happened now if you have no interest in or intention of getting close again. Just let it be and see how life plays out.