Mostly I’m of the “didn’t ask so I don’t tell” philosophy. I believe my friends are intelligent adults with their own opinions and values and they don’t need me pushing mine on them. There are times, though, when a friend just has to say something if a friend is truly a friend.
If your friend has a poppy seed stuck between her teeth, it’s only right to let her know. You don’t want her to catch her reflection in her rear view mirror hours later, after an important business meeting, to see that seed sitting there looking like a big cavity, do you? Of course not.
1. What to tell a friend when you’re asked for an opinion on appearance
Let’s say that same friend just came from the salon and has a new cut and color and from your point of view it’s God-awful. Do you say something? Absolutely not, unless she asks you and then what do you say? You’re in a tough spot if lying isn’t your thing, and not even white lies come out of your mouth easily or convincingly.
Under circumstances like that you tell your friend what’s true. “I like it.” That’s not a lie because you do like what makes her happy. You support your friend who is happy with her new do. You know she’s happy because you can see it on her face. For all you know, you’re the only one who doesn’t like her trendy hairstyle.
Suppose that same friend is wearing a new dress that isn’t flattering. She asks you, “does this dress make me look fat?” The concern is on her face. She has her doubts and probably already knows it doesn’t do anything for her. Saying “yes” is rather blunt, but as a friend you can say, “your (specify an outfit) is tailored better to flatter your body.”
When you tell your friend something about how she looks in her clothes, make it about the clothes, not her body.
2. What to tell a friend who’s about to do something dangerous
You weren’t asked for your opinion, but you don’t want to see your friend get hurt, so you need to speak up. This is when you tell your friend what concerns you and why. If you want to do your best to stop the dangerous behavior, activity or plan state the facts without the judgement.
Your friend tells you he’s going to go on a fad diet to lose 30 pounds in 30 days, but he wants to stay on it until he loses 100 pounds. Losing 30 pounds in 30 days isn’t easy but it can be done. Even if the diet is unhealthy, following it for only 30 days isn’t usually long enough to cause any lasting damage to health.
Following an unhealthy diet for more than 30 days can cause irregular heartbeat and gallstones among other problems. If your friend tells you he plans to do something that is proven to damage health, tell him the facts to dissuade him.
No, “What are you? Crazy?” Just, “were you aware ………………” and have the evidence to support your statement.
3. What to tell a friend when you made a mistake
If you made a mistake or did something to hurt a friend by accident, tell the friend you’re sorry. Apologies are a way to communicate that you’re sorry. They’re not effective when you use them to excuse yourself for an action that hurt your friend.
When you tell a friend you’re sorry the only other thing you might add is, “I didn’t mean to hurt you.” Stop there, before you add something that negates the apology such as, “I only did it because …..”
When you tell anybody anything, whether they’re you’re friend or not, it’s always recommended before you do it you ask yourself, is it necessary, is it true, is it kind?