MEDIATION: Movie night frustrations

Movie night frustrations

Dear Helen,                                                                                     January 2019

Monday is senior’s night at the movies and I am frustrated with a friend of mine who cannot decide on which movie we should see no matter how much time I give her to decide. Our movie decision should be based on the movie reviews, who stars in the movie and then we should make a mutual decision on the movie to see. It seems like the easiest way to make this decision might be to do rock/paper/scissors? Her delay in coming to a decision is driving me crazy. – Sue in Durham.


Dear Sue,

I hear the frustration in your words particularly in the closing question, “Should we do rock/paper/scissors?” The comment is hardly an inspiration for having a relaxing evening with a friend. Also, your level of anxiety is very evident in your final sentence.

It is a common dilemma, faced by many people when deciding how to spend time together. These comments might sound familiar: “Whatever you want to do.” “Pick something, I really don’t care.” “I don’t mind, really.” It is possible; you have heard your friend say these kinds of things repeatedly and this has led to much frustration.

I am glad you reached out to the Mediation Lady for help.

Your friend may sense your frustration and therefore may feel uncomfortable and aggravated herself, not to mention confused as to why choosing a film is such a big deal!

In the mediation world, we tend to look at things a bit differently. We want to know what is going on beneath the comments and the reactions. A mediator may discover that it is not about the activity itself but about doing the activity together. So, I dare say your friend doesn’t suffer from an inability to make a decision but places a high value on spending time with you. As a result, she appears indifferent to the choice in movies.

Your reaction, on the other hand, is also interesting, as you experience frustration every time you and your friend choose to go to the movies. This is referred to as a “Perceived Injurious Experience,” or, as in this case, the anticipation that something negative is about to happen as in your friend’s inability to choose a film.

A dialogue needs to be initiated between you and your friend, where a mediator will likely discover that you both enjoy each other’s company and want to spend time together. You may be surprised to learn why your friend is indecisive, and your friend will discover why you get so frustrated. It just takes a bit of conversation.

So here is my tip of the day, ask the person you are frustrated with, “Why is this important to you?”

Helen Lightstone
The Mediation Lady

Disclaimer:: Not a therapist or a councillor but offering ideas for considering another perspective.

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