Before you tell the truth, it is often wise to consider what you hope to accomplish by doing so. Are you trying to hurt someone or make your relationship stronger? And it helps to keep in mind, that both telling the truth AND using deception are important in a close relationship. Whether we like to admit it or not, both are required to make a close relationship work.
But, if you ultimately decide to tell the truth, what is the best way to do it?
So how do you tell someone a painful truth? Here are a few guidelines that should help!
Consider Their Feelings
While it’s easy to only think about your feelings in any given situation (especially one you’ve contemplated deeply), it’s important to give thought to how the other person is going to react to whatever you have to say. Their reaction will depend on what you say and how you say it, so put yourself in their shoes. If they were sharing this truth with you, how would you want them to do it? How would this truth make you feel? If you consider the other person’s feeling before you reveal a truth to them, you may end up hurting them less.
Being honest doesn’t have to mean being blunt or cruel. Just because you have to say something that might be rough, it doesn’t mean you have to say it in a rough way. Say it in the kindest way possible. This doesn’t mean you have to sugarcoat your words—just be careful with the words you choose. “I feel” statements are more effective than “You are” statements, so be sure to use them. One is an observation. The other is an accusation. No one can argue with how you feel, but they can protest when you’re blaming them for everything. In the words of Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Consider Your Timing
Though you may want to blurt out something in the heat of the moment, an argument is rarely the time to share an unexpected truth. Why add to the heat and the stress that an argument has already created? Instead, choose a quieter, calmer time that is filled with lesson emotion. There is power in knowing when to say what you have to say. Your words will go farther if you know when to tell your truth.