Telling the truth is important. But sometimes, it’s more important to keep what you really think to yourself. Why? Because speaking up can hurt feelings and friendships. So, whether your spouse is at odds with their boss, or your sister is spoiling her kids, here’s how to decide whether you should speak up. These tips come from relationship expert Dr. Judith Sills and Family Circle magazine:
- Ask yourself whether it’s any of your business. Other people have the right to make different choices – even if you think their choices are wrong. So, unless the decision affects you directly and they ask for your input, it’s best to keep quiet.
- Take your time. When someone asks your opinion, get in the habit of saying, “Let me think about that.” If you decide to say something later, you can reopen the subject with a simple, “I thought about what happened yesterday.”
- Speak for yourself. In other words, start your sentences with “I” instead of “you,” and express negative comments as your opinion instead of a fact. For example, if a co-worker asks for feedback about a speech, don’t say: “You say the same thing over and over.” Try: “I think shortening the introduction would make your speech stronger.”
- Measure your words. If you have to discuss a sensitive topic, give your opinion as gently as possible – and only once. Then let it go. Dr. Sills says there’s a fine line between speaking up and browbeating someone – and you don’t want to cross that line!
- Lead with a compliment. For example, instead of telling your husband, “Please, no more earrings for my birthday, okay?” Try, “I love how you always buy jewelry for my birthday, but I have more beautiful earrings than I could ever wear. I’d really like something else this year.”