Relationships: Do you cross the line?

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Relationships: Do you cross the line?

Learn where the fine line is between telling the truth and being hurtful.

By Jacqueline Foley

Source: MSN/Homemakers.com

Being honest/being hurtful

We are told to tell the truth from the day we are born, yet sometimes being truthful can be hurtful. For example, when, in the heat of the moment, you ream out your friend for cancelling your lunch date for the third month in a row. Always, , try to take the time to think about the impact your words will have and what you really want from the friendship. In a case such as this one, you can tell your friend the truth without being hurtful: that you miss seeing her and hope you can find a more convenient time to get together.

That guideline for considering the impact of your words goes double in cases where you have a (negative) opinion of your friend's new hairstyle or weight change. Most women prefer reassurance, not honesty, for the choices they make, notes Mallet. So if you think her hair looked better when it was shorter or that her black dress fit her better last Christmas, keep it to yourself.

Sharing information/gossiping

A big part of any friendship is sharing details about our lives. You may want to tell your friend about your neighbour's verbally abusive husband or your sister's two miscarriages, but is this crossing the line? Mallet believes that there's no harm in sharing information we know to be true, as long as we are not breaking a confidence or hurting someone. "Gossip gives us a sense of power," she says, "but it also causes trouble."

Mallet suggests that unless you are sharing facts that are public knowledge, you are crossing the line. If you know your sister is comfortable with others knowing about her miscarriages, then that's sharing information. If you are breaking her confidence, you're gossiping. And telling your friend that you think your neighbour is verbally abusive when you don't really know, is spreading rumours. And remember, crossing the line in this case may affect how other people see you -- in a bad way. "When you gossip to your friend, you're telling her you can't be trusted not to be talking behind her back, too," says Mallet.

Take a hint

Regardless of how hard you try not to cross the line, you're bound to slip once in a while. But if you stay aware of the impact you're having during the conversation, you should be able to recover before too much damage has been done. So the next time your friend's eyes widen or start rolling, or she tries to change the subject while you're in mid-sentence, heed the signs. You could say something like, "I can't believe I just said that!" Or ask, "I'm sorry, am I making you uncomfortable?" Then stop.

 

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