Hey, it's spring. Time to clean house. In this case, end a friendship.
I hired a friend of mine to work for me on a big project last year and I probably won't do it again. In fact, I know I won't do it again. I've worked with friends before -- it's fun. Especially when you started out as colleagues and became friends. The problem is that she and I had never worked directly together before. I would do the advertising; she would do the sales promotion. But we always had a good time talking, so I thought a collaboration could work.
But up close and personal. things quickly turned to kitty litter. In the past, I was always under the impression that she knew a lot about our business, but I discovered that she was mostly BS-ing. Apparently I was confused into thinking she knew a lot because her lips were moving. When I had to actually listen to her I began to realize she wasn't saying anything. She would make broad sweeping statements and I just took them at face value before. But turns out when we started working together, it became obvious that she was almost always wrong about everything she said.
I began to realize that was her m.o. -- lots of sound and fury, signifying nothing. I kept finding myself thinking, What are you saying? That's not true, you're making it up. Of course, we could have remained friends, but not work together.
Then she did two things that were astonishing. The first was pretending to forget that we had a conference call with the client -- after I had talked to her the day before about what time we had to call in. Instead she showed up at the client in person. This was a deliberate attempt on her part to plant seeds for taking the business away from me.
The second thing she did was at our client celebration dinner after the project ended. She told the client and everyone else assembled that she had been MY boss at the ad agency where we both had worked at one time. I was flabbergasted. I just stared at her like she was an alien, but she was talking so fast and furiously that I couldn't interrupt without being unpleasant.
When we were working at that agency I was a VP creative director and she wasn't even in our department. I didn't even know who she was. In fact, I didn't even meet her for another four years. So, was she insane? At the same moment she was lying through her teeth, she gave me the look that a bad child gives a parent. There was no other way to describe it.
I finally made some non committal remark like, "I guess I better not get out of line" and didn't challenge her. I figured people had been drinking, so I wouldn't get into things in front of a client.
Later I decided not to confront her at all, just to back away from her and let the friendship and business relationship die. Eventually I could clear up things with the client.
Recently she emailed me wanting to get together to "catch up." We'd seen each other at a party and a bunch of us had a lot of fun talking about all kinds of subjects. Her husband was there too so she couldn't go off half-cocked about anything. He has a way of looking at her and gently interpreting what she really meant.
Her email was very flattering about how interesting I am, blah blah blah, and I was the only one she wanted to actually sit down and follow up with.
I didn't respond. If she calls I'll send it to voicemail. If she leaves a voicemail and brings up the subject of getting together sometime, I'll ignore it. If she asks me to brunch, I'll be busy. I could just tell her the friendship's over, but we have lots of friends in common, so we'll be thrown together on occasion. Nobody wants to feel awkward. So if I don't say anything directly, but just sidestep her, she probably won't notice that the friendship has ended. Not for a long time. Maybe never.
Of course I'm left wondering whether the friendship's over when you don't actually say to the other person that it's over.