Recently a very good friend refrained from telling me something and it hurt my feelings. I knew in the back of my mind she wasn’t being upfront about something, however, as we humans do, I let it fester.
When I finally asked a pointed question that brought out her untruth I followed with, “Why didn’t you tell me?” Her answer – “I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.” That hurt more than if she had simply said she didn’t want to go with me in the first place.
Are you doing that to people you love, or even customers?
I’ve been asking around to see how people handle it when they don’t want to tell a person something that may indeed hurt their feelings. The overwhelming response is that when it comes out (and it nearly always does) that someone held something back or even lied because they didn’t want “to hurt” someone, the hurt then hurts twice.
The first hurt happens when the other person holds back or omits something. It begs the question, “Am I untrustworthy? Or does my friend not trust me?”
The second hurt occurs when the omission is uncovered. And it nearly always is.
It could just be me, however, most of us can deal with things as they happen, and like the pets we love, be hurt or angry for a bit and then move on. Forgive and forget, right?
When it comes up, however, that someone we love and trust has held back information or their feelings because they “did not want to hurt us,” the mind starts to wonder — Who did they discuss that with? How did they come to that decision? What else are they hiding or keeping from me?
Most of us do not like to be made to look like a fool, or to appear foolish. If you’ve seen a long-haired dog given a summer shave, they slink off, and hide themselves until they shake it off and rebound.
Humans are more complicated. We sometimes keep those hurts buried deeply inside. Recovery is slow, or not happening at all because we can’t decipher why someone who loves us didn’t love us enough to simply say what they were feeling.
I don’t have the remedy. I am still reeling from this good friend, and realizing that she has done this before.
So how do we learn from this?
Are you doing this to others? And if so, are you aware that it’s hurtful not only once, but twice?
If a customer asks you a pointed question, or a friend wants a favor and you don’t want to answer or go, here are a couple of ideas to save your relationships.

  1. Stop and take a breath. The “ask” may be too big or something not in your wheelhouse and that’s okay. Breathe and ask your heart. “Who do I want to be in this situation?”
  2. Ask additional questions like, “If I don’t go, is there someone else you can ask?” Or “Help me understand what you are trying to accomplish?”  Sometimes what they are asking isn’t really what they need or want.
  3. Tell them what’s true for you. It would have been far superior to hear, “This isn’t good timing for me and I know you can do it alone” rather than getting a made up story about a family commitment that was false.

I wish I was as good as the animals I love, who seem to be judge-less, grudge-less and accepting.
Instead I am still hurting from the untruth. The good news, (and there is nearly always some good in everything) is that I can be a better friend myself. Maybe I ask too much of those that love me?
From this day forward, I commit to using truth (in gracious and loving ways) with everyone I know, acting from compassion, and asking a lot more questions.
Is this a good goal for you too?
Do you have a story like mine? Please email me and share it. It’s nice to know we’re in this crazy wonderful life journey together.
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Shawna Schuh, CSP
Helping leaders evolve.  
Executive Coach, Speaker, Columnist & Author
President, Women in the Pet Industry Network

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