Try Disappointing People with the Truth

If you’re living your life honestly and with integrity, you’re bound to disappoint or upset people. Here in New York City, New Yorkers tend to pride themselves on their raw honesty, but even New Yorkers can turn shy when it comes to the simplest confrontations like telling someone there’s spinach in their teeth. So, it’s no wonder that we have so much trouble just speaking our own truth or pulling the plug on relationships and I’m not just talking about romantic ones. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had trouble breaking up with a hairdresser after a bad cut.

It's so important to flex that honesty muscle in lesser situations because life will offer you much more complicated scenarios. I'm not suggesting you make it your mission to let people know when there's something hanging out of their nose, but when situations come up that enable you to practice honesty, don't shy away. This practice will come in handy for heavier conversations down the road. After all, chances are you'll have to break up with a significant other or even a friend at some point or maybe you'll just have to let someone know they hurt you. You might even need to hold your ground by saying, I'm just not ready for sex right now. Whatever the case, here are a few things that I've learned along the way to help you navigate these difficult conversations.

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Don't wait. I know that the easiest thing to do is avoid confrontation completely, but you're just adding fuel for later by staying mum. Barring some situations where you're likely to never see someone again, it's much better to be honest in a timely manner. Things can also fester in you or the other person, adding to your problems.

Stay calm. Of course you want to consider someone's feelings and relay your truth with tact and sensitivity, but that doesn't mean you should let your fear of their potential reaction soften what you really have to say. So, tell your friend you found it offensive when she made that comment and don't be apologetic. Letting your emotions flare and expletives fly or starting off on the defensive, however, will only make things worse.

Be firm. If they take it hard, don't backpedal. Make sure you hold your ground.

Avoid detail. When I'm afraid of saying something potentially hurtful or just expressing an unpopular point of view, I can sometimes talk in circles until I've talked myself out of whatever I was saying to begin with. Emotions can sometimes be high in these situations, so don't jumble things by trying to imitate William Shakespeare. Just say what you're feeling and why, in as few words as possible. In this case, less is more.

Always listen. In almost all cases, you should give the other person a chance to respond and make sure you listen with an open mind. If you're parting ways with this person, it will give you both closure. If you're not, perhaps there's some future remedy that can be uncovered or it might even shed some light on something for you.

So, go ahead and rip that bandage off. Let the sweet, fresh oxygen of truth start the healing process. In the end, sometimes the kindest thing you can do for yourself and for others is to be honest.

Image courtesy of Grist.org

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