The best thing and some times hardest thing to do is to be honest. Tell the person upfront, I need to be able to leave our lunches and not feel drained. Maybe the person would want to be in relationship and say what have I got to do to stay in relationship with you? What are they bringing to the lunch? Hot dogs or caviar? So telling the other person how you feel, without blame. Ex: I feel down after meeting with you. What can we do to change this? See if it is something they want. If not it may be time to step back.
We assume we know where people are, ask the question.
Dr. Townsend and McCloud in their book Boundaries talk about helping people move a boulder versus carrying their backpack for them. It is good to help with the big things like boulders but when we take on their daily struggles as our own that is when we run into difficulties. Don’t carry someone else’s backpack. There is a time to listen when a friend may need to vent but when it becomes daily or weekly that is when you run into struggles. That is what burn out is all about.
When people just dump on you maybe by asking the questions you can empower them. Helping them see their choices by asking the questions. If they aren’t interested in choices or moving forward it may be time to take a step back from the relationship.
Another great tool is validation. Letting others know that you see they are frustrated, sad, etc. Then asking the questions takes it from dumping to thinking.