Thursday, May 21, 2009
Do you ever wonder if you should avoid telling the truth to keep from hurting someone's feelings? It is possible to be comfortably honest with people in situations that seem to require an offensive response.
1. Remember that honesty is the basis of any healthy relationship, whether with a friend or a significant other. Honesty gives rise to trust, which is absolutely essential. Lying to your friend can ruin a relationship almost instantly, if the lie is significant.
2. Consider the person with whom you must be honest. If he or she is shy or sensitive, then don't be brash and to the point. If it is a close friend with whom you can tell anything, then inform your friend accordingly. Adapt to your friend's personality and convey the necessary message properly.
3. Recognize some potential situations where the truth is necessary, but where a white lie might not be reasonable.
* The "Am I fat?" question. If your friend is being self-conscious, and is only a little bit on the big side, then reinforce that belief. Don't say "You're not that fat", as this comes off as sarcastic or insincere. Rather, use a comparative note. Consider, "You are not fat—trust me! There are a ton of people out there that are much bigger than you."
* The "Am I ugly?" question. Remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Beauty is subjective! Everyone has different areas of beauty; it's important to stress these areas. Your friend might not have the most beautiful body, but he or she may have gorgeous eyes, or a smile that stops traffic. Make this clear to your friend/significant other!
* Your friend wants to break up with his or her significant other. It's important to stress your opinion, but only if it's relevant. If you simply do not like your friend's boyfriend, then don't use that as an excuse to persuade your friend to end it. If your friend's boyfriend is abusive, then convince your friend to break up on the grounds that she might get hurt.
4. Give advice constructively. When expressing an opinion that may conflict with that of the other person, particularly if it is about some work that they have produced, focus on the positive aspects of a recommendation, and avoid phrasing it as a mandate. Rather than saying "I don't like it because..." or "You should do this instead...", try something like "I think it would help to..." It is also best to mention any positive remarks you may have about the subject before giving advice. This way, the person is less likely to perceive it as an affront on their abilities and is more likely to consider following your advice.
It's easier to hear the truth from a friend than from an acquaintance or stranger. If you aren't particularly close to a person with whom you would like to be honest, but you still want to convey your message, then ask someone who is close to that person. For example, you might tell this person's close friend that he or she has bad breath, rather than telling the person yourself. Remember—take note of the person with whom you want to be honest, and adjust your tone accordingly. That is, don't be over-the-top with a quiet and shy person.
In short, don't be rude. There are other ways to inform someone of something without directly hurting his or her feelings.
While excessive white lies are counterproductive, remember that some things are just better left unsaid. That which you haven't said doesn't need to be taken back.