Friends. Imagine, if you will, the following scenarios:
1. You’re out on the town with your workmates, enjoying a drink at a bar you don’t usually frequent. Out of the corner of your eye, you see your BFF’s boyfriend canoodling with someone who is definitely not your BFF.
There’s no mistaking it – you’re totally sure it’s him, you’re totally sure he’s not ‘just friends’ with this girl, and you’re totally sure your workmate is NOT in an open relationship.
2. You’re about to head out to a party with your sister and she’s wearing something that is deeply, deeply unflattering. The girls at this party are going to give her the sideeye and whisper disparagingly about her.
3. Your roommate is going through The Worst Break Up Ever and in a fit of weakness/drunkenness, she is about to send an email to her terrible ex brokering a peace treaty. This ex cheated on her, shared her sexual proclivities with the internet and is – let’s be honest – is a Grade A Garbage Person.
Obviously (obviously!) you need to say something. But how do you broach these topics without your friend turning her hate/shame/sadness on you?There is no fool proof method. Some of that shame/hate/sadness will probably splash on you in the process of doing the right thing.
There is one phrase that I’ve found helpful in these deeply awkward situations:
“I’d be remiss in my duty as your friend if I didn’t tell you ________”
Here’s why I (think) it works:
It’s bizarrely, hilariously formal
You almost can’t take issue with something that sounds like it’s coming from a contract agreement.
It shows that you take this friendship seriously and you value this person
You’re not being an a-hole when you tell your sister that dress isn’t great. You’ve got her best interest in mind.
When you say this, your friend (hopefully) won’t interpret it as “Your boyfriend’s a loser and therefore you’re a loser for being with him” or “You’re a slut with cheap, tacky taste in clothing.” Hopefully, they’ll hear “I care about you enough to tell you the thing you need to hear.”Again, this is not foolproof.
I cannot guarantee your friend will react to your comments with hugs and exclamations of appreciation. But it’s slightly more likely than if you tell her that that dress makes her look like a ho.
Do you have any methods for telling people things they don’t want to hear?
P.S. I totally stole this method from my own BFF who used it on me! And I didn’t get defensive, which is kind of a miracle in itself!