It is all in the way you say it! That is what I learned recently when I reflected on some words my wife had shared with me about my hair. She suggested that I change my hairstyle since there is a portion of my head that has become gray/white and is noticeably thinner especially on the magnified screen behind me on Sundays.
There are two ways to let me know this fact. One is definitely less difficult on my ego than the other. She can say “Hey Jim, your hair is not as thick in some spots as other spots” or “Jim, your hair is thinning” or “Jim, you are going bald.” I think you can tell what I would prefer.
It is not that I am in denial. I am just carefully accessing the information that makes it way into my brain. I think that is just being selective; an admirable trait really!
These thoughts on how to say things has led me to consider other ways we can tell the truth that are on different parts of the pain scale. Consider these with me and determine what you would rather hear.
You can say “it looks like you are consistently eating meals” or “Hey, are you putting on a few pounds?” or “You really don’t sweat much for a fat person.” Or, how about this other example: “You are quite the conversationalist” or “Could you slow your words a bit so I can pick up what you are saying” or “What about giving someone else a chance to say something?”
In reality this is a tough thing to do. It is hard to be honest without being deliberately harmful. On one side, you can sound totally insincere and quite frankly avoid the truth altogether. On the other hand, you can say it in such a way that actually makes the person feel a little crappy.
Speaking the truth in love is the key. What that basically means is that you consider the other person with what you say and do. If you care about him or her, you need to be honest. If you are honest with him or her, you need to do it thinking of how you would want someone else to tell you that same truth.
It is all in how you say it. Are you really hoping the best for the other person? Speak out of that motivation or don’t speak at all.