Speaking a Truth that Hurts
By Marcia Reynolds
Whether you are typically cautious or assertive when it comes to stating your opinions without being asked, it is likely you shy away from telling a friend, colleague or family member something that you fear could hurt…it is likely you want people to tell you the truth even if it hurts. You might get defensive, but once you sleep on it, you realize that if the comments were made with good intent, they were helpful to some degree. So why can’t you return this favor for someone you care about or respect?
…The next time you are anxious about sharing an observation that could hurt, first ask yourself if what you are about to share will help the person in the future or not. Consider that you might have been judging the person out of your own need to be noticed or right. Then, if you believe your intent is truly to help the person, contemplate these suggestions
1. Trust your inner voice.
2. Question your fear. What is the worst that could happen? Consider the level of angst you feel now. Could living with the consequences of speaking up be easier than living with your fear? Is it your own embarrassment you are avoiding more than theirs? If you can, choose to be brave. Then keep your intent of helping in mind as you speak.
3. Be strategic…be clear about the desired outcome now and in the future. Let the person know you are sharing your thoughts because you desire to help them to have something you know is important to them such as their professional future, collegial respect, friendship and love.
4. Ask permission…
5. Clearly describe the impact of their specific oversight or behavior. A person might disagree with your interpretation of their behavior, but it will be harder for them to dispute the impact they are having on you or other people.
6. If appropriate, share your intent. Let the person know why you care they have a more positive impact or outcome. Why are you sharing? What do you want for them as a result?
7. Don’t question your value. If you are being honest and helpful, don’t beat yourself up if the person responds negatively. In the long run, you are developing your personal power as you become more comfortable with giving direct feedback.”
A True Friend Will Tell You Unpleasant Truths
Juli Slattery is the co-founder of Authentic Intimacy, a nonprofit organization. She is also the author of “Passion Pursuit: What Kind of Love Are You Making?” and “Finding the Hero in Your Husband,” among others.
Over 3,000 years ago, King Solomon wrote, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” Telling your friends something they really don’t want to hear, like warning them about a relationship, takes courage. It says that you care about the person even more than you value the friendship.
There is a very fine line between saying you are concerned and saying you judge your friend’s decision. Let him (or her) know that no matter what he may decide, you will always be in his corner. Remember that you can be consistently supportive of a person without agreeing with his decisions.
Why It’s So Important to Tell the Truth, Even When It Hurts
Telling the truth can be very challenging. Sometimes you feel inclined to tell a little white lie to spare someone’s feelings. Although the truth can hurt people, it is best to come clean with anything you’re holding in. Here are a few tips on why it’s so important to tell the truth, even if it will hurt someone.
Because holding things in will ruin a relationship.
Relationships are based on trust and honesty. If you’re lying or hiding things from your significant other, it will only make the truth sting so much more for them. Coming clean as soon as possible will help lessen the pain and make your partner more willing to work things out.
Because if you don’t, you will remain angry.
You will start to blame yourself and become self-loathing. The guilt of keeping a secret from someone you care about will start to eat away at your mind and make you feel terrible inside, and you may release this pent-up stress in the form of anger and frustration. Telling the truth will be better not only for your partner, but for your sanity.
Because there is no real communication without the truth.
Being honest is very important in a relationship. How will you successfully communicate with one another if you’re lying to their face? Telling the truth will prove to your significant other that although you may slip up at times, you will always be honest with them. This will help build trust within the relationship.
Because getting through tough times is the foundation of any relationship.
Long, lasting relationships aren’t always happy ones. Tough times are a major part of relationships, and lying makes those times worse. No relationship is perfect, and both you and your partner need to understand that. Being in a relationship means handling bad situations in a rational, efficient manner for the both of you. By lying or hiding things, you’re only avoiding the problem and making it bigger.
Because you can’t let go and move on if you are still holding on.
You’re only prolonging the process of healing if you’re not telling the truth. You and your partner need to figure out how to handle this situation in a way that benefits the both of you. By not being honest, there is no way for the healing process to start. Be honest, it will work out for the both of you in the long run.
Why We Should Tell the Truth (Even When It’s Risky)
I recently wrote a blog post about the importance of asking our good friends for what we really need… When we ask a friend for what we really need, we take a risk — a big risk. We risk that the friend will not want to or be able to give us what we need. We take the risk that it is to expose our vulnerability, to show our true selves, rather than protect a version of ourselves, that we believe is likeable. We risk removing the armor from around our heart and as a result, getting deeply hurt. We risk being judged for our need. We risk feeling shame. And finally, we risk rejection altogether. By asking for what we really need, we risk discovering that we are not valued as we believed we were.
(My Note: she then tells her story of how she lost a good friend)
Do we take a real risk when we are honest about what we need — when receiving what we actually need becomes the priority rather than keeping the friendship going? You bet we do. Do I wish I had done it differently? No.
What I told my friend was the truth, with empathy for both myself and her. The truth I discovered was a sad truth, but a sad truth is preferable to a happy lie. What dies as a result of sharing the truth is not the friendship, but rather our illusion of what the friendship actually is.