Stuck in the Middle of a Conflict

Lord Snot

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At work I try to get on well with my colleagues, and even if I don't really like them I try to keep things pleasant because it's the grown up thing to do. But recently two couples there have had a big falling out and I'm kind of stuck in the middle.

For some background: couple 1 work in my department and we're quite friendly. The wife of couple 2 is a receptionist and her husband does volunteer work. I see them much less but they are good people and I enjoy chatting to them. I'm not entirely sure what the conflict is about because they each have different versions, but I'm certain that couple 1 are almost entirely to blame.

My problem is that the women in both couples talk to me often, and recently all they want to talk about is how much the other couple has acted badly. I know if I say "I'd rather not talk about it" or some variation, they will think I'm siding with the other couple. My strategy so far has been to listen sympathetically to both, nod along and make non-committal sounds. But I'm really worried that one of them will say to the other "well Lord Snot agrees with me!" due to my nodding, and they will both think I've been saying bad things about them to the other - which I haven't. For the same reason I don't want to start avoiding either of them, they will take it as a sign that I'm not happy with them.

What would you do in this situation? It's difficult to just change the subject because couple 1 are really angry and couple 2 are really hurt and they are focusing on this quite a lot. Naturally they want to talk about it.
 

Poppy

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(Personally I think it'd be funny as hell if someone said "well Lord Snot agrees with me!"!!!)

Seriously, you might want to try complete honesty and say something along the lines of "I really enjoy working with all of you, but I simply must back out of this discussion because I feel awkward and I want to remain friends with each and every one of you. You guys need work this out amongst yourselves."
 
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Lord Snot

Lord Snot

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I think you're right, but I know that couple 1 will not take it well. They are... I don't know the right word... whenever they have even a minor disagreement with someone, or someone does something they don't like, they start an all out war. And they hold grudges FOREVER. My husband and I used to drive them to work and we started to dread it because all they did, there and back, was moan about other people. Underneath it they have good hearts but they seem to thrive on drama, and I don't want to become part of one of their scenes.
 

Freesia

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Just say "I dont know, I wasnt really listening, I was thinking about what to cook for dinner." And if they try and tell you and get you to take a side, just shrug noncommitally and wander off. Look like you are thinking deeply about something.
 

sallyomally

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I remember a wonderful elderly woman in our church who helped my mom when she found herself in a similar situation once. She told her there were two things to say in response to people who try to put you in the middle of conflict; 1. "I'm sorry you're having problems. Hope everything works out for you." 2. (I use this frequently) "Well, I'm sure they're doing the best they can."
Good luck. I feel for ya!
 
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led.boots

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Just say "I dont know, I wasnt really listening, I was thinking about what to cook for dinner." And if they try and tell you and get you to take a side, just shrug noncommitally and wander off. Look like you are thinking deeply about something.
I love this answer. :D My co-worker likes to say some confusing random statement that they will pretend to understand so they don't look stupid. Once a couple of coworkers were complaining about each other to her independently, and she said, "Girl, always get the *green* dishes, that's all I'm going to say!" There had been no discussion of dishes or color, it made zero sense, but the complainer walked off as if she'd gotten her answer.
 
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Lord Snot

Lord Snot

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She has stopped complaining about this couple now, for the most part.

Of course because she loves drama like cows love carrots, she's moved on to at least 3 other people since. The slightest infraction and they're immediately sworn enemies of her and her husband.
 
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led.boots

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She has stopped complaining about this couple now, for the most part.

Of course because she loves drama like cows love carrots, she's moved on to at least 3 other people since. The slightest infraction and they're immediately sworn enemies of her and her husband.
Drama queens like that no one needs! Cows like carrots? <3 I have fed them to horses before, and they loved them.