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janbb's avatar

How to handle this situation tactfully? (Read details.)

Asked by janbb (53812points) January 18th, 2018

There is a newly single woman on one of the committees I work on.She is very needy and kind of annoying. She has heard that I travel and wants to pick my brain but I have the feeling that she would like to travel with me and there is no way I would. Another friend suggested that I tell her I travel with my family but I’m uncomfortable with the lie. Any other suggestions?

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31 Answers

MrGrimm888's avatar

I canoe a lot. I tell people that I do it for the solitude. That keeps my unwanted passengers off…

It’s a honest thing….

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, it wouldn’t hurt to share a few stories with her, but if she tries to invite herself to come along, just say no, you’d rather travel alone. It can be said kindly, but firmly.

Jeruba's avatar

I definitely wouldn’t lie about it. “I prefer to travel by myself.” No need to give a reason; any reason is an opening for a response that negates it (“I like to plan my own itineraries” – “Oh, anyplace you want to go is ok with me.” “I keep odd hours” – “I’ll be glad to fit with your schedule.”). It’s ok to state your position and stick to it, Bartleby-style: “I prefer…” She can’t claim that you have no such preference.

These days, I also feel no obligation to people who want to “pick my brain” and think that for the price of a modest lunch they’re entitled to the benefit of the experience and knowledge that I have acquired over decades. I do not want my brain picked—a most unpleasant image, suggesting excision by a sharp tool. I’ll freely share what I know and go out of my way to help someone who recognizes that it has value, but if someone proposes to address my brain with a pick, I’m not available.

canidmajor's avatar

Really, I am with @Jeruba on this. A nice tip about what website you use to make your plans should suffice for the “brain picking”, and the “I prefer to travel alone” will take care of the rest.

It sounds to me, however that she might be using the travel thing as an opening to spend time with you, an excuse to have lunch, make a friend if she’s lonely. There may be more to this than you originally thought.

I’ve had lunch with you, you’re pretty darned good company! ;-)

Love_my_doggie's avatar

A “feeling” is nothing more than that. This woman has asked you for some travel memories and ideas. At least so far, she hasn’t suggested any trips for the two of you.

I recommend sharing some travel stories, including the fact that you travel alone and cherish the solitude. Really emphasize that travel is your “alone” time, and that this is the reason you enjoy your trips.

janbb's avatar

But I do travel with other people at times.

Brian1946's avatar

What is there about her that kind of annoys you? Perhaps there’s a way to tactfully discuss that with her.

A few years ago, my brother tried to set up a trip for me and this grossly overweight, misogynic dude that we know.

I said something like, “I think my wife might want to go, so I want to check with her about making it a threesome”. I conferred with her, and we both decided we didn’t want Bob Le Slob joining us on any trip that we took.

Bob never asked me what our decision was, but if he had, I would have said that Vicky and I prefer traveling as an exclusive twosome.

janbb's avatar

@Brian1946 That’s not germane to the question. I don’t want her as a friend and I certainly wouldn’t travel with her. But I do have to work with her on a committee so I don’t want to be rude.

NomoreY_A's avatar

For my money I second most of the posters above. Just tell her that you’re a semi hermit and place value on your alone time when travelling. Nothing more need be said. Just my own 2 cents worth.

Kardamom's avatar

Just tell her that you have a few close friends that you travel with, that you’ve known for years, and that is your preferred getaway. You don’t really need to elaborate.

It would be a kindness to tell her a white lie if you need to, rather than telling her she’s an annoyance and you don’t want to travel with her.

If she just wants to spend time with you, at lunch at work, or outside of work, tell another white lie, such as that you really value your alone time, rather than telling her she’s a bother to you, which would probably hurt her feelings.

NomoreY_A's avatar

Well if she just says she prefers to travel alone it’s true so, what lie, white or otherwise? If she neglects to mention that she travels with others at times, that’s just an omission or oversite not a lie.Just call that a “my bad” moment.

si3tech's avatar

@janbb That sounds like an uncomfortable situation which sounds like it has the potential to be intrusive. I think it’s more hurtful to ‘beat around the bush” than to be direct and tell her your privacy is important.

Jeruba's avatar

I find threads like this one disturbing when I read the rationales for advising others to lie. A person can be tactful and kind without making up fictions. I hate to think that people are likewise lying to me all the time, and I would not consider it a kindness. If I were the lonely, newly single acquaintance in this situation, I hope I would have the sense to understand and respect another person’s own stated preferences.

seawulf575's avatar

I agree with @Dutchess_III there is no harm in talking with her, but if she wants to go with you, you can politely decline. If she really gets pushy and annoying about it after she is told no, you can get more firm about it.

janbb's avatar

@seawulf575 I do plan to talk with her but I want to be clear from the start that I won’t travel with her.

@Jeruba I agree with you which is why I want to be as close to truthful but tactful. Your suggestion that I say “I prefer to travel alone” would be a lie and one that might come out as one sometime.

janbb's avatar

She wrote me an email saying she’d like to chat about travel. Here’s what I’m planning to write back:

“I’d be glad to chat with you about travel at one of our post-meeting lunches. I have traveled on my own in the past but now am usually traveling to visit family or with a close friend who is my travel companion.

In the meantime, these are some of the companies I or friends have used:.........”

I think that’s honest but sets a boundary. What do you guys think?

kritiper's avatar

Stand firm in your resolve.

janbb's avatar

Oh – there’s no doubt about that. I am nobody’s pushover and my travel is too precious to me.

KNOWITALL's avatar

If she’s on a committee with you, even though she’s annoying, why not do a day trip sometime you both are available and just give it a try once? You may be missing out on an opportunity to make a new friend, help someone, cement a political ally, etc… I mean, I’d try just about anything once before saying ‘never’.

Your reply above sounds good though, if you choose not to make an attempt.

canidmajor's avatar

Sounds like you have this well in hand. I agree that having the discussion on neutral ground is a good idea, You can be tactful and helpful without encouraging more contact.

janbb's avatar

@KNOWITALL Nope. I’ve seen her enough and I’m old enough to know whose friendship I want to encourage and whose I don’t.

janbb's avatar

Message sent

Jeruba's avatar

Coming along late here, but I think your message is fine. When I suggested that you say simply that you prefer to travel by yourself, I thought it was true.

> I’m old enough to know whose friendship I want to encourage and whose I don’t.
I second that. I’ve always been more reclusive than sociable, and I feel less inclined than ever to cast a wide net and begin new relationships. A few good friends and occasional visits are enough for me. Right now I can’t picture myself ever traveling with anyone. One of my dearest friends is a certifiable extrovert, but she is also a very intuitive, sensitive person, and I never have to explain to her that introverts are not broken extroverts in urgent need of repair.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It is true, @Jeruba. What she said was “Another friend suggested that I tell her I travel with my family but I’m uncomfortable with the lie.”

SergeantQueen's avatar

Yeah, it’s a good message. If I was her, I would take it as you prefer to travel alone, even though you didn’t really flat out say it. I think, when you do talk about it in person, maybe mention that you travel because you love the getaway from people, etc to make sure she gets it if you want to make sure that she knows.
If she does ask to travel with you, just say politely, “I would love to travel with you, but I am not able to travel as much as I would like((If that’s the case)) so when I do I prefer to do it alone.”

Dutchess_III's avatar

She doesn’t want to lie @SergeantQueen. She wouldn’t love to travel with her.

SergeantQueen's avatar

As I side note, if you don’t want her as a friend just make sure that all communication is professional and if she does bring up friendship say you’d rather not at the time.

@Dutchess_III Then just take that section out. It isn’t detrimental. I’m bad at social interactions so that would be my response.

janbb's avatar

Well, this is the response I got:

“tx jan I did a lot of traveling last year one was a road scholar and it was great I am looking for traveling companions. I did a retreat last year with a yoga group and that was wonderful but I don’t have many future plans so anyway I would love to to meet up with you and talk more thanks again bye-bye”

Not going to respond but I may have to be blunter in future – or did she get the message?

NomoreY_A's avatar

Search me I’m not skilled at that sort of thing. I’d let it be for a while and see what happens. If you don’t get response, problem solved.

Dutchess_III's avatar

She’ll get the hint eventually.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@janbb haha, you are funny! But I get it, I’m on a few committee’s myself and wouldn’t want to hang out with all of them for any length of time…. I get it!

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