Friends are supposed to be completely honest with each other. That's why we trust our friends and value them – we know that they will always tell us the truth, however harsh it may be. But being honest at all times is not easy, sometimes we are tempted to lie because we are afraid to hurt our friends' feelings. Here are some tips on how to be honest with your friends.
Be gentle. There are several ways to say the same thing, and there is a great difference between brutal honesty and gentle honesty. Being brutally honest can indeed hurt your friend's feelings and even end your friendship, while bring gently honest proves that you really care about your friend.
Here's an example. Say, your friend has a new boyfriend and wants to know your opinion about him. Frankly speaking, you think that he is jerk and she should ditch him as soon as possible. But if you say it out loud, you will inevitably hurt your friend's feelings because no one wants to hear that the person they are dating is a jerk. Love is blind and all that.
So how to formulate this truth in a gentler way? For example, you can say, “I am glad that he seems to make you happy, but I don't think we'll ever hit it off.” Or, if you are convinced that the guy is really bad for her, you can say, “I am concerned about how he is treating you.” See the difference?
Don't give unsolicited advice. Your friend may want to hear your honest opinion, but that doesn't mean that you have the right to tell them what to do. The final decision is always up to them. So don't give any advice unless you're explicitly asked to. Sometimes we say “You should...” without even realizing we're giving advice no one asked for. “If I were you...” sounds a little bit better.
Never say “you never...” or “you always...” in a negative context. Sometimes we don't like the things our friends say or do because no one is perfect. If something about your friend's behavior or attitude is bothering you, you can and should tell them that they're making you uncomfortable. However, the truth shouldn't sound like a generalized accusation: “You never listen to me!”, etc. The words “never” and “always” should not be used in a negative context.
When you find yourself in a situation where you have to criticize your friend, criticize their behavior, not their personality. For example, don't say, “You're always so clingy, don't you even now what personal boundaries are?”. Instead, you can say, “It makes me uncomfortable when you hug me like that, please don't do this anymore.”
- 7 Things You Should Never Do to Your Friend, How to Deal With Dishonest People, What to Do If Your BFF Disapproves of Your Significant Other, How to Set Boundaries in a Friendship?