Proverbs 27:5-6 says, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful”
What do you prefer – a friend who flatters you or a friend who tells you the truth even though it might hurt? It is easy for someone to say nice things about you as it benefits them. They know that you will like them because they are flattering you. However, these may not be friends that you can trust. It is the friends who are willing to risk losing your approval by telling you something that you may not want to hear. It is these friends who will always be honest. It is these friends who will say what needs to be said no matter what the cost. These are the friends you should treasure. They are honest.
Being on the receiving end of an honest conversation can be difficult. You might not even want to see that friend ever again. Consider that what they had to say might have been very difficult and perhaps even painful for them too. Understand that this is what a good friend does. A good friend is honest no matter what the cost.
Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another”. It is only through honest friendships that we can grow and become more. Can you be sharpened by a friend? Are you big enough to receive an open rebuke? It’s not easy but the results are priceless. A friend who has bothered to be honest with you is likely to be a friend for life, someone that you can always count on when you need to know the truth about something. That brings me to another question, what sort of friend are you? Do you love someone dearly but have kept that love hidden? Do you take time to consider your words before you speak to a friend ensuring that what you say is honest? Are you willing to offer the truth to your friend even if it might hurt them? Mull over these questions and take time to be honest with yourself about the sort of friend that you are.
You will need wisdom though; some friendships are too new or too fragile to handle the raw truth. Take time to plan how you will present the truth to your friend. It shouldn’t be mean or unnecessarily harsh and should be wrapped in love and compassion. If you truly love your friend, always be honest but take care in how you present the truth to them.
One of the best methods that I have come across is the build – break – build method. Try to sandwich the negative between two positives. There is always something good to say about someone, no one is all bad. Take time to build the person up, especially if you know them to be sensitive. Reassure them of your love. Offer a loving touch or a hug before you get into the difficult stuff.
Once you are into the ‘break’ part of the conversation make sure that you are not beating around the bush. Get to the point and make the point clear. The last thing you want is for your friend to feel your disapproval but not really know why. It would hurt her more to have something vague thrown at her. Make sure you are direct and specific using very intentional key words in your conversation. If she has hurt you express your hurt honestly. If she has a blind spot about something in her life make sure you let her know that you have noticed something that perhaps she has missed. Keep it simple.
Finally, end off on a positive note so that she is assured of your love for her and knows that what you said was only for her benefit or for the benefit of your friendship. It is possible that she might need time to process the truth so let her know that you are happy to talk about it some more at another point if she needs to. Also, ask her for feedback. Find out how she feels about what you said. Give her the opportunity to disagree. It doesn’t matter if she is right or wrong; allow her the freedom to retaliate if she needs to. Don’t hold it against her, most of us don’t take truth or hurt very well. Give her some grace as she might not take it very well.
Another possibility is that you have made a mistake. Consider that you may have misunderstood her actions or intention. Factor in that you may not have seen the whole truth. Take into account that you could have made a mistake. Give her the opportunity to tell you something that you might not want to hear. There are many things to consider when having this sort of conversation but if you true desire is to be an honest friend then no matter what happens, you will grow from it.
You could lose a friend by being honest. Not everyone can handle the truth. Some people don’t value the truth. There are even those that prefer superficial flattery to a deep and meaningful friendship. You are only responsible for being an honest friend.