“Nobody’s perfect” is a phrase you undoubtedly have heard someone use to describe the gaff of another person. Perhaps you remember employing these two words to help explain one of your own faux pas. If we are honest, we recognize people are fallible and prone to error.
It is not difficult to recognizing the imperfections of another person, but how we respond to them will make all the difference to the errant person.
Everyone has an inherent desire to learn, improve, or better themselves in some manner. You do not have to look far to find something lacking in our thought patterns, attitudes, personalities, behaviors, etc. Our imperfections creep out in any number of ways providing ample opportunity for other people to observe our imperfections in action.
Criticism can be helpful if delivered with professionalism and grace. If you have ever experienced criticism that lacked grace, you will remember the discomfort it caused. I have experienced both. As a child, I had an older friend in the neighborhood graciously point out a behavior he found distasteful. He played the role of a kind older brother who helped mentor the younger brother. I valued his friendship and input. As a young man, I was accused of an action that was not true. My defense was treated as denial even in light of evidence supporting my innocence. I do not understand their attitude to this day, but do not hold it against them. They were young too.
I appreciate friends and colleagues who graciously point out my blind spots. I hope I can be as gracious when I feel compelled to help them along their journey of life.
A true friend will tell you when your fly is open, when garlic is lingering from your lunch, when your intensity begins to disrespect the opinion of others, or when your priorities become blurred. We need this kind of friend. After all, nobody is perfect, but people can make great strides if given the proper chance.
You can be a great friend if you take a risk to offer sound suggestions. We just need to avoid some bad tendencies.
- When we falsely accuse, we come across as opportunists or defensive. People who are either insecure or highly principled are more prone to this error.
- When we jump to conclusions, we generally draw assumptions about a person or situation before we have taken the time to think through an issue or consider all the facts. Highly decisive people are more prone to this error.
- When we sit as judge and jury, we are exercising our need to move on with life and can come across as impatient. People who like to see things as either black and white tend to gravitate toward this error.
- When we relying on rumors and innuendo, we appear as gossips or busybodies. People who enjoy a good story about other people are more prone to this error.
- When we try to fix them, we appear perfect or arrogant. People who are high performing and goal focused tend to be prone to this error.
- When we simply feel their pain and avoid telling the truth, we appear genuinely concerned as long as we can avoid delivering the difficult news. People who care so deeply that they get caught up in the emotion are prone to this error.
- When we ignore or redirect, we appear to discount or dismiss the needs of another. People who value their time and want to avoid a prolonged engagement are prone to this error.
These are some examples based upon our intrinsic motivations that lead us to be less gracious than they need or deserve. Friendships and difficult conversations go hand-in-hand. The key is the manner by which we communicate as we keep the other person’s best interest in mind.
How do you deal with friends who need some gracious advice?