We need to talk.

Many years ago when I worked with my Dad running a small business, his pat response to being informed that “we have a problem” was “There are no problems, only opportunities”. To which I would frequently reply, “Well brace yourself, because we have one Hell of an opportunity!”

Wow. I had the exact same situation with an ex-girlfriend/fiance of mine.

Our relationship was deteriorating, and one of the signs ( which I note now in hindsight ) was her growing habit of inconveniencing or trying to upset me by calling me during the last minutes of me making ready to leave for work. Previously, she always respected those boundaries and knew that last 30 minutes was a beehive of activity for me. She got to where she would like to manipulate me by calling me to say something, or ask a question, that could have easily waited for later. Or to pick a fight over something stupid, which would then escalate. Her way of needling me.

Another case is a family member infamous for being a bossy manipulator would leave a message on my answering machine “you need to call me” in a grave solemn tone. I hear this at midnight and am ill at ease as to the possibility of some family member grave health issue, till morning…only to find out it was a request for a very minor favor…her solemn and brief massage was her way of making sure I wouldn’t blow off her request. Very sick move.

“We have a problem.”
“There are no problems, only opportunities.”
“Okay. We have an opportunity to go out of business.”

Or the classic “you know why I’m mad”.

After I moved out of my parents’ house, whenever I came for a visit, even long after I had a wife and kids, my mother would invariably begin by saying, “We have to have a heart-to-heart talk.” My reaction was always to want to go right back out the door. But I didn’t and she rarely actually tried to have such a talk. But I sure hated to hear that line.