We’ve all been in the situation before. A friend comes to us and tells us that someone confronted them about something he/she had said and wanted him/her to know that they found it offensive. Our friend goes on to explain why he/she doesn’t agree with what this person said and then … they turn to us and ask us, «Do you think I come across that way?» Uh oh. What do we say? Do we tell them the truth? Do we explain that we agree with what this person said and risk hurting him/her? Or do we lie and say something like, «Oh no. You’re not like that. I don’t know what that person is talking about?»
So many of us don’t have the courage to tell those we love what we really think. We can be so concerned with making them happy that we don’t share something that would probably help them grow. It usually comes back to bite us when the person continues the same behavior that they once asked us about. If only we would have told them the truth when they asked. Most of the time we withhold the truth because we either want to make people feel good OR we are so uncomfortable with conflict that we take a nice two-step around the situation by lying.
I believe we have two responsibilities when it comes to honesty and relationships. The first one is to trust that being honest is good enough. It is what it is. If our friends or family cannot accept the truth, it is there issue not ours. Which leads into the second responsibility and that is to share the truth in love. How we communicate truth is very important. A perfect example is a common example for any married couple – If your spouse asks you if the jeans they have on make them look fat, and the jeans do make them look fat, don’t respond with, «yes.» You could still be honest and say, «Well, I believe you have other jeans that fit you better.» Take a second before you speak and think of a way to communicate the truth that gives the listener the best chance of hearing it. Inevitably, someone at some stage will be hurt by your honesty, but that doesn’t mean you should lie. To make matters more complicated, some of us don’t want to hear the truth. We only want to hear what makes us feel good, but that is not a sustainable habit. The truth will come out eventually so we might as well deal with it now.