I would really value your opinion now. Where do you draw the line on honesty, versus someone indirectly putting another person down? At what point do you realize that someone is being genuinely helpful, or is just putting you down to keep you down. I have noticed a pattern with a friend where she claims to be honest, but seems to be able to tell me what my flaws which doesn’t feel very nice at a gut level. It lowers my mood and I feel less confident in myself after. Maybe she hasn’t got bad intent, but the friendship feels less valuable than what it does with other friendships, where I feel uplifted instead of being weighed down. I know that she struggles with mood and perhaps she is expressing life in a way that has meaning to her, but I’ve worked very hard with improving my life experience past trauma. With this being said and done, I posted her some positive memos and made a point of saying that there is everything to live for now, despite life’s challenges from the past.
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A male reader, WiseOwlE + ♥, writes (2 November 2018):
There is a fine line between being critical and offering constructive-criticism. There are major factors that distinguishes the two; that helps us discern when people are being helpful, or just putting us down.Thousands of people write to DC for advice. The important thing to remember is tone. You consider sensitivities of the person you’re trying to help, but remember that you’re communicating with an adult, or sometimes a child. Some have emotional or mental disorders. The advice is being offered to someone you’ve never met. Therefore, the advice is tempered and generalized in order to fit not just the OP; but several different readers who may have the same, or a similar problem. Keeping compassion and empathy in-mind at all times.You construct the advice or opinion according to the known facts, and carefully consider the message you want to get across. Not to dismiss the fact some will be offended, or misconstrue the meaning; but clarification or an apology is necessary to affirm the response is meant to be helpful, and the concern is genuine. You can base that on the reaction you receive to the opinion or advice.There is being “direct;” and then there is dropping an anvil on an ant! If a person comes-out more wounded after your advice or honest opinion than before; you have no business offering advice. Maybe your friend just doesn’t have the tact, filters, or temperament to go there with you. So stop her in her tracks!!! Don’t let her inject her poison; and timidly stand there and take it!It has to have a positive and effective message behind it. Not just judge a person or insult them; or kick them when they’re already down. You have to be careful about adding insult to injury!Your friend is taking too many liberties; because you haven’t set any boundaries. She may be a very judgemental and presumptuous person; or actually thinks she’s being helpful, but forgetting that “brutal-honesty” isn’t necessary in every given situation. You don’t pull out a full arsenal of weaponry when you only need a tissue or a hanky. You also have to stop your friend when she’s hitting a sore-nerve. She has to know your safe-word, what’s off-limits to her opinion, and when she’s getting too personal. She doesn’t know; unless you set the guidelines.I’m the kind of person that prefers people to be upfront and honest with me. I’m not stupid. I can tell the difference between a tip, and a left-handed curve. If the words hurt more than helps, it’s not good advice. Sometimes the truth hurts. Provided you know it’s the truth, and the facts can’t be disputed! Telling you what you want to hear is lying. It’s not meant to help. It’s just to stroke your ego, manipulate you, or intentionally let you crash into a wall. Some people like stripping you bare, and outing your weaknesses. It makes them feel that they are better than you. Pointing-out each and every imperfection or flaw.You’re noticing that her criticism seems to come far too frequently; and probably unsolicited for the most part. If you don’t like the delivery; you are equally justified to offer your rebuttal. You should totally rebuke her advice; based on it’s effectiveness, and whether you believe it came from the right place. I get rebuttal sometimes. I will either follow-up with a sincere apology, or clarification. I don’t blow smoke up anybody’s skirt. I don’t sugar-coat advice; if someone only wants a childish pat on the head, or a pity-party. I find that condescending; and you shouldn’t treat adults like that. If I ask for advice or an opinion; I’ve got the balls to listen. I can take it, or leave it.If I see facts, hidden details, or warning-signs; they should be addressed according to their severity. If your friend sees an oncoming train, do you want her to whisper her warning, or scream? Don’t over-share your business; if you don’t want it thrown-back in your face.Nit-picking and calling-out your every flaw is neither being honest, nor a friend. It’s being underhanded and mean-spirited, under the guise of offering advice. She is coming from a dark place; because you feel so wounded that you don’t know how to take it. So tell her so!!! She’s burning your ears; and going for your feelings and emotions. You have every right to call foul; when someone steps on your toes, or crosses the line! If you seem to consistently receive a stream of criticisms from someone; they aren’t being honest. You’re being judged!They are insulting you, and hiding behind friendship; so you’ll keep your defenses down. If all that ever rolls off your friend’s tongue is what she sees negative, or wrong with you; she’s taking advantage of your naivete. Using you as a target or whipping-post for her own frustrations and prejudices. Even worse, elevating herself above you!So speak-up!!! If you get a profuse apology, and she never does it gain; then you’ll know all that was necessary was to establish a few rules and guidelines. You need a safe-word to pull back the reins when she comes charging at your vulnerabilities and soft-spots.I think she’s less of a friend than you may be giving her credit for. She’s always making you feel bad, and she’s always aiming at your self-esteem and sensitivities. You’re wise enough to notice this; so it may be time to distance yourself. Keep conversations less personal, and away from offering her opinions about you. Abruptly interrupt and change the subject; or ask her not to go there. If she tries to use the honesty-card, shoot a hole in it. Tell her if you find it insulting or hurtful. Ease-off this friendship. Your description of it doesn’t sound good. It seems a bit toxic. With this exception: If she has been repeating her advice about some no-good man you’ve been clinging to; I hope she doesn’t give-up or let-up on you!
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A female reader, Anonymous 123 + ♥, writes (2 November 2018):
I do not like people who put others down in the name of honesty and I hate it when people offer unwarranted advice. I believe that unless categorically asked, there should be no “well meaning” words of wisdom on offer to anyone. I have an aunt who can’t help but do this and it is so bloody annoying! She will preface it by saying ” I shouldn’t be saying this and don’t feel bad about this but…” and then start right off! She once proceeded to tell her overweight cousin to “stop eating so much” right in the middle of a meal and then launched into the health hazards of being overweight. It was so cringeworthy but yeah, that’s how it is with her. I think you should be able to tell your friend his you feel… after all she’s doing the same! Tell her that her “honesty” is hurtful, you know what your flaws are and there’s no need to have them pointed out. Friends are supposed to make you feel good, not pull you down. If she still doesn’t get it, then it’s time to get some distance. Life is hard enough as it is without having to worry about things like this.
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A female reader, Honeypie + ♥, writes (2 November 2018):
I think it’s EASIER for you to take what she says with a grain of salt then trying to change HER. If her “insults” are all indirect then YOU are the one making them about YOU.Now I DO think if she KEEPS telling you that you somehow aren’t good enough that you ALSO need to stand up for yourself. It can be as simple as saying, I guess I agree to disagree. That is NOT how I feel/think.Have you asked her HOW she is doing? Maybe she really feels down and that is why she brings everyone around her down too, unknowingly.And you might also consider just telling her straight out that perhaps she might want to take a look at her own negativity, that it can be hurtful, not just for you but her as well.Do you ASK her to comment on your flaws? Do you ASK her for honest advice?If so, maybe she is NOT the person to ask.I believe in being honest with people around you, but I also believe that using a bit of TACT is in order when it’s a very personal issue being discussed.Let’s say you had a haircut and also had the hair dyed red. And let’s say I didn’t like either the cut or the dye. You asked me what I thought. I would probably say ask first if YOU liked it. If you did I would perhaps say that I couldn’t get away with that hair color and leave it at that. I wouldn’t tell you it was “hideous” or the wrong color for you. If you didn’t like it, I would tell you that hair grows fast enough and using plenty of shampoo with soften the dye job fast, and that YOU can make it work. Because what would the point of being BRUTALLY honest here? To make you feel even worse? I might not like the hair, so what? It’s a fine balance.In general though, I wouldn’t want to keep a person around who is seemingly more negative than positive. It’s EXHAUSTING to be around those people.
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