My friend is having an argument with her husband, and I think the husband is right. How can I remain loyal to my friend when I want to be honest?
Kathy: There are three specific things I try to keep in mind when I'm discussing a problem with a friend. It doesn't matter if I think she's wrong or right—they apply in every situation.
Your friend may want solutions, but she may just want someone to talk to. If you listen, your friend might come up with solutions herself.
Validate Your Friend's Feelings
Even though you might not agree with your friend, you can try to understand her viewpoint. As a friend, your number one job is to show her that you care.
Don't Take Sides
Focus the discussion on the topic at hand, not who is right or wrong. Brainstorm pros and cons and help her come up with some creative alternatives. And if you must give advice, find a good point from both arguments and suggest a compromise.
Amy: Great suggestions, Mom! Here are a couple of other factors to keep in mind:
Evaluate the Nature of the Friendship
What kind of a friend is this? Do you tell each other your deepest secrets, or do you just see her around town? Will she appreciate your honesty, or will she gossip to her friends about how abrasive you are?
The first kind of friend will respect your honesty, and you should tell her what you really think. The second kind of friend won't take your advice and may resent you for it, so you should avoid giving it unless she insists on it. If that happens, be honest...but expect a few fireworks.
Check Your Phrasing
There is a right way and a wrong way to tell a friend she's wrong. Your friend may respect your honesty, but "Consider the alternative" goes over a lot better than "You're nuts!"
Your friend is lucky to have a friend like you who values the relationship and wants to be honest. If she's a real friend, she'll love you all the more for it. Keep us posted!
Kathy and Amy