How many times have you talked about your friend’s shortcomings behind their back? Let’s be honest, we all do it. The thing is, we call it ‘talking shit’ because its covert; but sometimes when you’re that person’s friend, if you’re not being mean, then you’re just being objective. You just wouldn’t be comfortable telling them your objective opinion.
If there’s some glaring weakness in their character and its obvious to you and your friend group, then it’s probably apparent to everybody else. Like a fat piece of spinach in their teeth, it’s your responsibility to let them know.
We’ve all had that moment; you had a good day, got home, looked in the mirror and there is lunch from six hours ago, against a nice white background. Now, those conversations with the dean of your college, your boss’s boss, and all those girls you were feeling chatty with didn’t go so well. What if that thing was in your teeth for years and nobody let you know?
What I’m really talking about are the big things, not just something in your teeth. The concept remains the same. A real friend would tell you if you were embarrassing yourself, because if they don’t, how long will you go making impressions that you’re not even slightly aware of? The easiest example that comes to mind is halitosis. Bad breath disease.
I have two examples of this. The first one was a casual tenth grade friend named Tim. Everyone thought Tim was cool; excepting one major factor. Tim’s breath smelled like he woke up and ate crap in the morning, There’s no other appropriate way to put it. No one ever told him as far as I know. I don’t know where Tim is now, but I know Tim could’ve somewhat ruled our grade if it wasn’t for his breath, and if he still hasn’t figured it out, well, hopefully Tim keeps his distance in interviews.
The other friend, who shall remain nameless, is one of my closer friends. I knew him for a year and a half before I just had to tell him his breath stank. I felt like it shouldn’t be avoided anymore at one point; when I caught a whiff during a drunken heart to heart. I waited until the right time and stated it right, but he knew I was looking out for his best interest and no one had anything to say about him when he left the group.
The overriding point here is that as much as you might love your friends, despite their shortcomings, not everybody will; so you should let them know. I wouldn’t have been friends with either of those two if I had noticed their breath first. Why? Because that’s the normal reaction and I can guarantee both missed out on opportunities in life because the people closest to them were too busy being polite about something uncomfortable.
There’s lots of things that might fall under this umbrella, to varying degrees of seriousness. Whether it be bad breath, greasy hair, farting in public, coming off creepy, putting their foot in their mouth, talking about one thing too much, talking over people, puby facial hair, smelling bad, drinking too much, smelling like cigarettes, wearing something they shouldn’t, or any number of things. If there’s something negative everyone realizes about your friend, then you should tell them. That is, if it’s something that’s an obvious negative, and not just that your friend is weird. As obvious as things seem to onlookers, you should realize that some things just don’t occur to people unless its presented to them.
It doesn’t mean you should nit-pick your friends, but if you’re not helping your friend improve their lives, how much of a friend are you? It’s really a form of protection, to not only tell them what’s great about them, but also what may be holding your friend back. Personally, I want to be the best version of myself. That means fixing my shortcomings. That means not having chronic bad breath. Piece by piece you have to build yourself up, and if you sincerely care about a person and present the criticism sincerely, they’ll see you’re just trying to build them up too.