How to Be Gently Honest

Telling the Truth in a Kind Way

Friends want people who will tell it to them straight and not lie, but how to do that without causing problems? It isn't easy to be honest when you know it might hurt your friend or even end the friendship. 

Being honest with people is a crucial step in becoming friends. Honesty relates to trust. If your friends can count on you to be the one person in their life that will tell them the truth (perhaps even a truth that no one else will), they will appreciate you all the more. The trouble is when you're brutally honest, you might say something that will hurt your friend's feelings. It's a fine line between honesty and rudeness sometimes.

Be Gently Honest

There are two types of situations when your friend is going to need your honest opinion: when they ask you for it and when you need to step in and tell them something for their own good. In the first situation, your friend is simply asking for your thoughts. Answer them gently, without trying to give them a dig or take them down a notch.

For example, if they ask, "Do you like who I'm dating?" you have a couple ways to respond.

  • Brutally honest: "Are you kidding? He's a loser. He can't hold a job and he makes you pay every time you go out."
  • Gently honest: "Well, I like that you seem happy, but I'm concerned about how he is treating you right now."

In another example, if your friend asked, "Does this outfit look good on me?" you could say:

  • Brutally honest: "No way! It makes you look ten pounds heavier."
  • Gently honest: "I'm partial to the one you wore yesterday."

In these examples, you're still being honest, but you're doing it in a way that isn't hurtful.

Being honest doesn't mean offering your friends unwanted advice, either. It's okay to tell the truth, and if you're concerned about one aspect of their life, speak up. But do it in a loving manner.

For example, if your friend is doing something dangerous or reckless, you should talk to them. In this case, again, you have the choice to make your comments brutal or gentle.

  • Brutally honest: "What's your problem? You've been moping around here like your best friend just died."
  • Gently honest: "I haven't heard from you in a while. Are you doing alright? Talk to me."

In another example, let's say your friend is going after a promotion again. Your pal has tried out five times and has been rejected each and every try. You suspect he just isn't qualified.

  • Brutally honest: "I really don't think you're going to get that promotion. Why do you bother trying? You're just setting yourself up for failure."
  • Gently honest: "You've been very determined about this job. Why is it so important to you?"

Be a Sounding Board For Your Friend

Your friends don't want you to lie to them, but they also don't need you to lay your negative opinions on them. There is a balance between honesty and just blurting out words that can harm for years to come. Check yourself to make sure you respond without jealousy or anger, which can also add to brutal honesty rather than gentle honesty.

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