“Does this make my butt look big?” asked Suzy. Without a second thought Bob replied, “Well as a matter of fact, yes it does.” Angered by the answer, Suzy stormed off into the other room.
Why ask a question if you don’t want an honest answer? The fact is, is that normally they do want the honest answer. It’s just that when they receive the truth, they can’t handle it. That’s a common struggle for many people. They ask questions, looking for sugar coated answers. When someone is honest with them, they get hurt.
Even though the truth can be painful, it’s also needful. How can a person ever learn anything or grow, if they never accept the truth?
In most cases, people don’t enjoy hurting others. If they’re hurting you by answering your questions honestly, then eventually they’ll stop being honest with you. No one wants a bunch of dishonest people walking around them, on egg shells. To reduce the risk of this, only ask questions when you are prepared to hear the truth. Otherwise, don’t ask. That will save time and unneeded heartache for all parties involved.
How about constructive criticism? Can you handle that? Even though this feedback is used to encourage someone to improve, it can sometimes be hard to swallow. Most people want to do their best at everything. Therefore, it’s frustrating when we learn that we are not meeting expectations.
Offering constructive criticism to someone can be a bit concerning, because people often get offended by it. Because of that, many people question as to whether their suggestions are worth the risk of possibly upsetting someone. Constructive criticism can be offensive for a variety of reasons.
The recipient may be too prideful to accept it. There are people who simply refuse the help of others and because of that, no one can help them. Unfortunately for them, all we can do is let them be.
As for others, their offense is usually a result of embarrassment, self disappointment or low self confidence. However, these people are different than the prideful ones, as they will eventually accept the feedback. Outwardly, they may appear agitated and may even snap back. But, give it time. Once they get over having their feelings hurt, your feedback will most likely be received.
If you are one of those people who get offended by the advice and opinions of others, please keep in mind that most of the time, it’s not done out of spite. Their constructive criticism is offered out of care and concern, for your benefit. That’s why it’s called ‘constructive’. It’s meant to be helpful.
The only way that we can grow and improve, is by listening and learning from others. Although we see ourselves everyday, our view is very limited. People on the outside can often see us much more clearly than we can.
I’ve learned a great deal about myself through what others have shown me. I live with me, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that I see ‘me’ the way that others do. Because of that, I’ve learned that it’s important to listen, even when it hurts.
Can you handle the truth?
I just had this conversation with a friend! The conclusion we came to was that if you ask the question you need to be prepared to hear the real answer. I think we all know people who ask and we know they are really not interested in hearing the truth, so for those people we might just agree with them- say what we know they want to hear, but these are not real friends, or people that really matter to us. I am not interested in getting unsolicited advice from people though. If I have made a decision about something and have not asked for input or thoughts on what I have done, please do not offer up criticism or your opinion if I have not asked!
I agree that people who will allow you to tell them the truth, are real friends. Well, you are a real friend to them. They appreciate you if they are willing to hear you.
I’m different than you when it comes to others giving input. I appreciate input from others on things I may be able to do better. Also on issues they see in me, that I’ve not noticed (annoying habits, etc), but should be corrected.
Granted, in order for me to receive their feedback, they must approach it with the right attitude and gentleness. The way we communicate and the words we use, make all the difference.
You are right that the way in which something is said can make a big difference. I don’t mind getting unsolicited input from my husband and my best friend- I agree that people can see us more objectively than we see ourselves and it can be helpful. I recently had an incident with someone I am an acquaintance of who informed me she did not like the name I had chosen for my business for x,y,z reasons. I didn’t ask for her feedback, and it served no purpose except to make me mad!
I’d like to think so.
That’s a good thing.
Although I can usually handle the truth, I do have problems if the truth is told without any tack. I end up feeling like I’m the butt of a joke when the person telling the truth is so surly about it.
I completely agree. It’s all about how it’s presented. If it’s done in a demeaning way, then it’s just hurtful and nothing good comes from it.
My husband and I have had this discussion a few times. I agree with the don’t ask if you don’t want an honest answer policy. If you ask a question knowing you expect one answer only and will be upset if you don’t get that answer, you are setting up whoever you asked, to fail you. Seems unfair if that’s why you’re asking. Seems kind of cruel in some situations. Great post!
You’re right. It is unfair and they put the other person in a lose lose situation. Either they must lie to the person they care about or make them angry with honesty. Thanks for the comment!
Here’s a different angle. It’s something I no longer do, but a person who thinks so poorly of themselves will ask for “reinforcement” of their beliefs. For instance–I know I look bad in these pants, so I will ask an honest person if I look bad–they respond, why yes! Yup, just as I thought, thank you for validating my perception.
I really enjoy the passive-aggressive comments I get from my mom….after sitting in my pajamas until noon…”I always get up and get dressed to start my day”. Um, I don’t really care. My day starts in my pajamas.
In other words, there is an art to not placing so much importance on what other people think. They don’t really matter. It’s what we think and believe ourselves that matters.
I’ve asked for validation a number of times also. But, I suppose if we perceive something a certain way, especially if it’s negative, then even if the other person disagrees, we’ll still feel uncomfortable with it. Whether it be the clothes we’re wearing or a thought process.
You made me laugh. What is with people telling us what ‘they’ do, in a way to prove something to us? We’re not them. We’re each our own individual person and enjoy our own ways of doing things. That’s one thing I find to be frustrating. But, the good thing is, is that those comments are usually harmless and can be easily shrugged off.
I agree that what we think of ourselves matters more. However, there are things about us that we are blinded from seeing. People have pointed out issues in me that I would have never seen on my own. They were real issues that were effecting others around me, so I’m glad they were pointed out.
From as young as I can remember, I was told that I was a hard person to be around, a hard person to live with. So I believed it, and figured I would live the life of a loaner. If anyone said anything that I perceived as negative, that was okay because I already knew I was a bad person.
You know what? That habit of putting myself down was one thing that drives most people around me nuts. In fact, I didn’t even know I was doing it to the extent I was. In that case, I was blindsided when I was given the truth, and I have been striving to be kinder to myself. I step all over myself to be kind to others, but I have never believed I was worthy of caring for, or being kind to.
Tell me I look fat in my pants—I don’t care. 🙂
You sound just like me. That was the exact revelation that was given to me. The one I was referring to, without actually saying it. I spend so much time putting myself down, that in turn I make those around me miserable. They have no idea how to please me and make me happy. Which is the problem – they can’t. Only I can do that. But, in order to do so, I have to feel worthy (as you said).
I still struggle with it, constantly and always have to remind myself to not speak negatively about myself. We’re very similar, you and I.
Took me a long time to learn to shut myself up, and replace the put downs with positive thoughts—or food, whichever felt right at the time. 🙂 Seriously, I struggle with it, but I have caught myself starting to say that something was my fault when I had absolutely nothing to do with the situation. I stopped myself from saying it, and tried hard to push it out of my mind. That seems to be a step in the right direction—recognizing your thoughts before they escape your mouth.