He’s arrogant and bossy. She just needs to butt out. He isn’t as good at his job as he thinks he is. She’s ruining her life by dating that guy. He has chronic bad breath. (Eww!)
Let’s face it – we’ve all met people who need to see the truth about themselves.
And while I believe wholeheartedly that the truth shall set you free, I don’t believe that full disclosure is (always) the best policy. I also don’t buy “Well, I was just being honest” as a good enough excuse for tactlessness and poor timing.
Before you confront people about their issues, consider these 4 things:
Without these 4 ingredients, your advice is bound to make zero impact on the person, and perhaps even needlessly strain the relationship as a result.
A simple way to make sure these 4 ingredients are in place is to reflect on the who, the when, and the why:
Who – Are you the right person to break the news? Are you someone whose opinion matters to this person? Are you someone she respects? If the answer is no, you are not the right person to tell her — she won’t listen and she won’t change.
When – Is now a good time? Are his emotions still raw, or is his mind still not finished mulling things over? How stable is your relationship with him at this point? Is there an audience present, which might make him defensive or embarrassed during the confrontation? Is this a time in his life when he is open to hearing the painful truth? Timing is key.
Why – Do you want to help this person? Do you see potential in her? Are you rooting for her? Do you feel like getting it off your chest will improve your relationship with her? Or do you simply want to teach her a lesson and put her in her place? If it’s that last one, keep your opinion to yourself. Otherwise, speak the truth and be ready to support that person as she changes, fails, and tries again.
If you don’t score well in the who, when, and why categories but feel compelled to confront someone anyway…don’t. Or at least not until you’ve consulted with TWO trusted, wise, and unbiased people before going ahead with your plan. (Yup, I said TWO, not one.)