Is Now the Time to tell the Truth?
Man, sometimes telling the truth is just balls.
As an ethereal concept, we all tend to agree upon truth-telling, but in the trenches of real-life relationships, it gets tricky and awkward and (if we’re not careful) it gets hurtful.
Allow me to extrapolate?
I am by no means a fan of dropping the ugly (often unnecessary) truth in someone’s lap.
I am, however, a big proponent of being kind and helpful.
For example, I don’t believe there’s any kindness in telling a friend you don’t like her new house after she’s already moved into it.
I believe in focusing on what’s positive whenever possible and looking on the bright side of life.
Unfortunately, there always seems to come a moment in certain circumstances of adulting when focusing on the positive crosses over into dishonesty and there’s no bright side to look at.
I recently heard Danielle LaPorte (whom I adore beyond measure) speaking about resentment and (if I may be permitted to paraphrase slightly) she suggested that if you’re waiting to start enjoying something that you resent, life simply doesn’t work that way.
To expand on her point, I would argue that sometimes, the only road to peace is through the uncomfortable and awkward midpoint of The Uncomfortable Truth. We must have an honest conversation about what we’re feeling resentful of, prior to the ol’ cut and run.Sometimes, the only road to peace is through the uncomfortable and awkward midpoint of The Uncomfortable Truth. Click To Tweet
Before we brave those waters, let’s take a moment to examine the difference between Kind Truth and Asshole Truth.
The Asshole Truth:
* Your best friend just got her haircut. She looks like Carol Brady. You tell her that she looks like Carol Brady.
* Your best friend brings her new boyfriend to your birthday party. He seems nice, but is so dull that he peels the paint off your walls. You tell her you don’t like him because he’s boring.
* A friend is showing you photos of a wedding she was recently a bridesmaid in. Her dress looks like a UPS truck. You tell her so.
Are you detecting a pattern here?
Asshole Truth is the kind of truth that is neither kind, nor helpful, nor solicited. It’s often after-the-fact criticism; judgement disguised as truth.
Please, sweet friend. If this is you. If you are an after-the-fact-critisizer, disguising yourself as a sooth sayer. Stop. Please. I don’t want you to look like an asshole.
If you have to say, “I was just being honest” you were potentially just being a c*ck. Apologize.
Conversely, Kind Truth is usually requested by someone dear to you.
Or it’s necessary in order to allow someone (including yourself) to move past something.
It’s the tough-love advice that you’d often rather not give. Sometimes telling the Kind Truth is a result of needing to speak your own, personal Truth.
Kind Truth is necessary when:
* Standing up for yourself in untenable circumstances
* A friend tells you her boyfriend is physically or emotionally abusive
* Your job is sucking your soul out through your shoes
* You went on a date with a dude and you’re just not into him but he keeps calling
The difference between Kind Truth and Asshole Truth is that Kind Truth is necessary, and it’s done with…well…kindness.
It’s all (or mostly) in the delivery
You don’t have to tell the dude you went on a date with that his breath smells like a sewage lagoon (unless he specifically asks, and then it’s up to your own discretion).
You can say, “You’re a super nice person, but I just don’t feel relationship-chemistry with you. Whomever you end up with will be a really lucky lady.”
Does the idea of saying this make you sweat?
The alternative, however, is five more uncomfortable dates, dodging kisses, and eventually, dodging texts.
The alternative wastes everybody’s time. It’s dishonest and it’s not that kind.
Note: I have actually had to have this specific conversation. I’m pretty conflict adverse, and to be honest, my first instinct was to do the latter – avoid him until he stopped calling.
Luckily, my best friend reminded me, “People want the truth.” (usually true, though not always)
In this circumstance, the dude in question thanked me for telling him the truth. We parted company, not exactly friends. But I wasn’t the Medusa either. He may have maligned me to his friends, but I didn’t feel guilty for being a dick.
Score one for Erin?
A few final notes about truth-telling:
* Don’t over-explain.
Especially if you’re breaking up with someone. You’re already breaking up. Chances are, you’ve already described his faults to him in great detail. There’s no need to argue, and honestly, taking the bulk of the blame on yourself ends the discussion more quickly.
* A word about text messages.
I am of the belief that truth-telling must come in the form that the relationship is primarily communicated in.
Side note: If you need to apologize for being a c*nt, the only acceptable ways of communicating are in writing (that’s handwriting, homes) or in person. Sorry.
That being said, if you went on one date with a dude you met online, I think a short and simple text suffices (but I may be hindsight justifying my own actions).
If you’re breaking up with a real dick, I think it’s fine to do it over the phone. Especially if he has a habit of never leaving your house when you argue.
Just my opinion. Feel free to argue.
* A word on children
You can never, ever, under any circumstances, tell anyone that his or her child is a dick. There are zero tactful ways of doing this. Not even if she asks. Not unless you are perfectly fine with the relationship being over after you have the conversation. Sorry.
* A word on the significant other
Tread lightly. Like, eggshell lightly. The only times I deem it acceptable to tell someone you don’t like his or her partner are if: there’s abuse, or you’re directly asked (and even then, refer back to tread lightly).
Yes, that’s it.
That being said, my children are not of the age that I have to deal with not liking their partners from a parental angle. I reserve the right to change my stance when it comes to them.
* A few words about quitting jobs
You want to go out with class, no matter what. Yes, even if you’re never going go back to banking ever again.
That said, if your employer offers you an exit interview, take it. Strategically map out your thoughts in advance. Tell the truth about areas where the company could (in your opinion) make improvements with respect to training, technology, morale, communication, etc.
Do not say, “This job was a bag of dicks”.
* Be prepared to accept the results
Not everyone wants to hear the truth.
Sometimes it is necessary to tell it anyway.
If you tell the truth to someone who doesn’t want to hear it, you may offend her. Worst case, you may lose her as a friend, which is sad.
This does not mean that you shouldn’t tell the truth anyway. It means that you should evaluate your reasons for wanting to do so. If you deem it necessary, be as kind as you can. You might lose a friend anyway. Be sad about it. Send her some love and light. Hope that one day she will come back.
Tell the (kind) truth anyway.
* Standing up for yourself
I say go for it. Always.
I once had to confront a woman at the office where I worked. She was so rude to me. I was a file clerk. She used to throw files at me. Action needed to be taken (some of those files were heavy).
I planned my attack. I wore my best dress. I sweated all the fuck over my best dress (which pissed me off because it was dry-clean only).
I strode into her office, early in the morning (because I knew she arrived prior to anyone else). I said, “Listen, Blah Blah. You need to speak respectfully to me, or not at all.”
In the end, she became one of my greatest advocates as I advanced through the company. After I left, I sent her flowers and she cried.
I’d love to tell you I felt confident in this confrontation, but it was truly terrifying.
In fact, telling the awkward truth is always pretty terrifying for me. It hasn’t gotten easier with age.
I have, however, gotten better at discerning the moments when telling the truth is absolutely necessary.
Telling the truth is necessary:
* If you’re sitting on resentment
* If you know it’s time to break-up
* If you know you need to quit your job
* If you’re just not that into him
* If she asks you straight-up
* If there’s a risk of her being unsafe
* If it’s your mother
If you’re in one of these circumstances, I hope you’ll consider taking the plunge into telling the truth. The alternative is that white-knuckling it through your life, and as we discussed last week, that’s no way to live.
The huge plus of telling the truth even when you don’t want to is the relief you get to experience on the other side. If you’ve been sitting on resentment or discontent, I guarantee that you will feel lighter after you tell the truth (as kindly as possible).
I believe that relief is one of the most underrated of all pleasant emotions.
Knowing when and how to tell the truth is an act for the emotionally mature. It’s tricky, but it’s worth approaching from a thoughtful place (as opposed to avoiding it completely).
I know you can do this.
I truthfully love you and think you’re fantastic,
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Now it’s your turn. Tell me your story. Have you had to tell an uncomfortable truth recently? Did you ever tell the truth and regret it? How did you tactfully approach an uncomfortably honest conversation? Where were you successful? Where did you bomb? What did you wear? Hit up the Comments below. I love our discussions so much.