Ask Ellie: Political emails threaten friendship with colleague

Advice columnist EllieDear Ellie: I know the husband of a work colleague who’s also my friend. (As her partner, he’s a lovely, caring man). My colleague and I have always gotten along really well, and respect each other.

We also get together with other work colleagues as frequently as possible. I know that if I needed help, she’d provide it if possible.

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The couple share an email address. The wife has never expressed any political views, although her husband does.

He and I are polar opposites in politics. Lately, I’ve been receiving many political emails (largely unsubstantiated). I know that he’s the one sending them. However, I don’t know what her political beliefs are as she never voices them, and neither do I voice mine.

It’s getting really annoying receiving these emails, and I simply delete them. He has a right to his beliefs; I have a right to mine. I don’t think any less of him for this.

Isn’t it a “golden rule” that you don’t discuss politics or religion unless both parties agree to do so? Should I keep deleting them or should I say something?

It’s starting to get tiresome.

Divided by Politics

Two goals: Try to maintain the colleague friendship. End the annoying/intrusive emails.

A simple, polite request “To whom It May Concern: Would the sender of this information please desist? It’s not in line with my own political beliefs. I respect your right to yours but have no interest in changing mine or discussing the matter.”

That leaves the possibility that the sender won’t be certain that you know it’s your colleague’s husband.

If he keeps sending, just keep deleting. Otherwise, the friendship is bound to be affected…. or it will be anyways.

Feedback regarding the letter-writer who sought counselling, then did the opposite of what she was advised (Aug. 20):

Reader: I’m writing to point out something that I’m sure many readers will also note: The counselor actually did help the client although not in the expected manner.

After seeing the therapist and receiving a disappointing response, the client took charge of her life and made a decision that she was sure about.

Isn’t that what therapy is for?”

Ellie: Yes, absolutely! Recognizing one’s own strengths is one of the main goals of therapy for a client to achieve.

But therapists have the task of deciding which approach may work best for each client eg. through discussion and/or learning the client’s childhood influences, adult experiences, etc.

In this case, the therapist pushed the right button by recognizing the client’s well-developed strengths.

So, she suggested the very advice this client would be sure to reject, choosing instead recognition of her strong self-image and the benefit of family, work, and friendship supports.

Feedback regarding the guest who was uncomfortable/annoyed after hugging an unvaccinated person (Aug. 21):

Reader: Although I feel that hosts should first think through whether they will or won’t invite unvaccinated people to their homes, guests need to take responsibility for their own behaviour.

If I don’t know someone well enough to already know their vaccine status, I would not hug them without asking their status — or more likely limit my hugs to when this crazy time of enduring a pandemic is behind us.

Reader 2: The letter-writer chose to attend a social gathering unmasked. If being safe was important, he should’ve worn a mask. To blame somebody else instead of taking responsibility for their own decision and possible unfortunate consequences, is unreasonable.

Reader 3: Though the unvaccinated person may be convinced of her position, she doesn’t have a “right” to it. Non-vaccinated people are currently and overwhelmingly the people contracting COVID-19 and filling up our hospitals.

Exhausted health-care workers are being pushed to the brink of their energies. Anti-vaxxers’ hospital needs are preventing others from receiving urgently-needed medical treatments, causing deaths and anguish as a result.

This isn’t a right — it’s an uninformed choice detrimental to our society.

I may not want to obey Stop signs — but I’m required to do so. It saves my life, and others’ lives.

Ellie’s tip of the day

Delete the email bombardment of another’s political views. If asked directly, say you agree to disagree.

Send relationship questions to ellie@thestar.ca.

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