Families and real friends donât sugarcoat truths. On the one hand, thatâs great. Only someone who really loves us will tell us something we donât want to hear, so we wonât end up hurting ourselves. But timing and tone are everything. This article will help you deliver that dreaded news or comment without hurting the other personâs feelings, or worse, your relationship.
Speak honestly, but kindly
Donât just tell your daughter, âYour boyfriend doesnât really love you, he just wants you for sex.â Sit her down, and say, âHoney, Iâm bothered about some things your boyfriend doesâ¦â and then explain your reservations.
Know when to talk, and when to listen
We love each other so much that we want to help. Sometimes that means giving advice. Many times, however, all the other person wants is a chance to vent. So listen, stifling the urge to butt in. Give advice only when he feels more open for feedbackâperhaps the next day, when heâs calmer. (Read our article for more tips on communicating effectively with your family.)
Criticize the behavior not the person
Donât say, âYouâre so lazy!â which is a direct attack on character. Instead, âYou could get a lot more done if you finished your work before watching television.â
Talk about goals
Hereâs another tip: people donât like being ordered around, so if you want to change behavior, offer a vision instead. For example, if gentle reminders to finish work before watching television doesnât work, then say: âYou could earn x amount just by working in the morning.â Or give a goal, âIf you work x hours, and earned x amount, you could save for the car you wanted.â
Acknowledge small victories
The best critics are also the best cheerleaders. You may have to tell your husband, âYouâre gaining too much weight!â but you should also be the first to notice when heâs making healthier food choices or has lost a few inches off his beer belly.
Praise in public, criticize in private
If you do have to call someoneâs attention to a fault, do it in a private conversation. That prevents embarrassment and will make him more open to your comments. But, give your praise in front of other people.
You may feel someone has a âfaultâ but is this a personal preference or based on objective observation? Examine your motivates and seek advice from other people. For example, if you donât approve of your teenagerâs clothes (âShe looks like a slut!â) ask other parents what their kids wear, and go through magazines or fashion websites to look at trends and maybe offer an acceptable compromise. âHmm, that skirt is too short for meâ¦ I like what this celeb was wearing, though, itâs sexy even if it had a longer hemline. Can we work with that?â
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