A close friend asks–and genuinely wants–your opinion about something, but your opinion is one that he is likely to find quite painful. For example, your friend is an artist and asks your honest estimate of his chances of being successful. You think he is an atrocious artist who hasn’t the slightest chance of success. What would you do?
I mean, if it really is the art thing and I don’t like his art, I think I’d try and go with the whole argument that most artists aren’t really appreciated in their own time. Sure, that means I don’t necessarily appreciate your art either, but when you’re long dead, people will be talking about it. It’ll be coveted by art thieves the world over. And your descendants could easily pocket millions for something that looks like a three-year-old did it.
No? Too harsh?If a friend is really asking for my honest opinion, I’m going to give it. I’ll be as gentle with it as I can, but I’ve got no problem telling the truth when it needs to be told. I’m all for someone doing what they love, but if you can’t carry a tune in a bucket, I’m not gonna suggest you try out for American Idol. The saddest thing I’ve ever seen on that show is when people walk out of the judges’ room heartbroken because people have been telling them their whole lives that they have a beautiful voice. Those people have not been doing that contestant any favors.
And if my friend can’t handle my opinion, even after asking for my brand of honesty, then I guess we weren’t very good friends to start with. And that’s okay. Because, you know what? I don’t have room in my life for people who want me to be fake with them, or who will be fake with me.
So there you go. What would you do? Be honest with your friend? Or keep pumping sunshine and rainbows up their butt?
*The Question of the Week can be found in The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, Ph.D.