You know you’ve done it. In an effort to be nice, not hurt someone’s feelings, comfort someone who’s feeling vulnerable, or just not have to be the bad guy, you’ve given someone what you thought they wanted to hear and not what they really needed to hear. In the moment, it can be the easiest thing to do, and it is most often the least confrontational thing to do, but it is not the right thing to do.
It is only through honesty in our relationships that we deepen our connections and truly empower each other to improve who and what we are. Here are a few examples of these types of encounters and some alternative means of handling them:
- Alice didn’t get that job. The pleaser may console Alice with akin to “I’m so sorry, Alice. I know how much you wanted that job. They have no idea what they’re giving up by not hiring you.” The honest friend might respond with something like this: “Alice, I love you, but I saw you an hour after your interview. You were dressed like you were going clubbing with friends. Do you think it’s possible that your outfit was a factor in your not getting the job?”
- Brenda can’t seem to lose weight. The pleaser might console with “I know, Honey. It’s just unfair that some people seem to lose weight so easily, and others just can’t.” The honest friend might respond with this: “Brenda, you know I love you, but the reason you don’t lose weight is that you’re not faithful to diet and exercise. Just last night you posted on FaceBook that you came home from work, made a cheesecake, and ate the whole thing!”
- Becky can’t make the grades she used to make. The pleaser might respond with “It’s harder now that we’re in college. There are just so many expectations that it’s impossible to meet them all.” The honest friend might respond with “Becky, you’re not studying. You’re partying and being lazy instead of committing to your school work. As long as you keep neglecting your homework, you’ll probably continue to have poor grades.”
- Greg is frustrated, because no one trusts him. The pleaser might say “Who knows what’s wrong with them. They’re always like that. I’d just ignore them.” The more honest coworker might respond with something like this: “Greg, you may not realize this about yourself, but you gossip about everyone in the office. People talk to each other and share stories, and it seems that everyone is hesitant to share anything with you.”
The truth can be an uncomfortable medium in which to work, and more often than not, we seek engagements that lack confrontation. While sharing the truth as you see it, you may just find yourself in a sticky conversation, and that’s okay. It is through these encounters that honest relationships grow and deepen.
Have you delivered honesty and improved a relationship recently? I’d like to hear about it. Tomorrow Begins Today.