We tell them that their business idea is great, that their songs sound like nothing else, that their partner is perfect for them. Even when we don’t actually mean it. Instinctively, this feels like the right thing to do. We are being ‘supportive’ friends. We are being good people.
It ties in with how our culture views feedback and criticism. If you take your business idea to an experienced business owner and they point out flaws in your idea, it doesn’t mean that you’re a garbage person. It simply means that there are areas you haven’t been able to comprehend because you don’t have the experience, yet. It’s often easier to see the entirety of a situation when you’re not directly involved. Not being able to see the forest for the trees. This is why you take it to an experienced business owner.
There have been times when I’ve broken up with someone and my friends have come out of the woodwork immediately, proclaiming how they never liked that person. They knew it wouldn’t work out! Wouldn’t it be nice if I knew that too? Only it’s not that easy. It could be, in part, due to people wanting to make us feel better in that moment or that they feel they weren’t experienced enough to give that advice not knowing all of the facts. You don’t need to be married for 40 years to be able to see that two people have different goals or to know what a successful relationship looks like.
When people do tell us these things, defence mechanisms tell us “you don’t understand!” We want to be omnipotent. We believe that we are privy to unique information that makes scenarios apply to only us. In some instances, there are facets of information that make situations more difficult to analyse for an observer but it’s highly unlikely that no-one else has experienced this situations before.
If we really loved our friends, we would tell them the truth. If the outcome is important, then getting the truth now is of more use than getting it in the future. Think of any time in your life where you found out the reality of a situation that made you act differently. How much time would have saved if you’d known that sooner? More importantly, what could you have done with that time that would have got you further than you are now? We do need to be tactile because self-worth can be fragile. Each friend may respond to things broached in separate ways but it’s worth working towards more honesty. Seek honesty.
If you’re in a dark room and can’t see, it’s not your fault. You just need to find a way to light your way. Use a torch, light a candle, find a light-switch. Feel around and acknowledge that your vision is limited because of this. If your friend can’t see, give them a torch. This isn’t telling them that they’re stupid, simply supplying them with a helpful tool that they don’t have.