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When a friend asks for honesty, what do they really want?

It's a good question -- one that knowing the answer to could save a few friendships.

According to a recent TODAY/AOL survey on body image, the answer varies according to gender and age.

Across the board, it looks like most adults prefer to hear the cold, hard truth, despite the pending potential sting. Most teens feel the same.

But there is one group who admits that, even if they ask for it, they prefer the truth the least amount of time: Teen girls.

Take a look at the results:

So if what most people want to hear is the truth, then the question is, how do you deliver it without hurting feelings or, worse, damaging a relationship permanently?

Leading 'authenticity' expert Brene Brown might say that the most important reaction to have when someone opens up to you -- which is exactly what they're doing when they ask a question that exposes a vulnerability -- is to meet them where ever they are emotionally. More than the truth, people are usually interested in feeling less alone at any given vulnerable moment. Letting them know you've 'been there' is also a quick way to let them know you're not judging them.

Rehabilitation Counselor Lindsay Pirozzi, MS, CRC, suggests considering where you are -- the literal space -- before responding. Tough feedback should be delivered in a 'safe environment, full of love,' she says. 'Make sure the the person will feel comforted after the honesty bomb has been dropped.'

Most would also agree that sandwiching your honesty between two positive pieces of feedback is effective, but writer Kevin Daum of Inc. dished out a few more smart tactics:

'Instead of simply laying out a list of offenses, describe scenarios from an objective viewpoint and ask key questions so your subject can draw their own conclusions about their weaknesses. Lead them with questions to understand from a management perspective why a different behavior is more suitable. When making statements, stay away from direct attacks. Use "I" language and speak from your own experience.'

For the full methodology of the TODAY/AOL survey, head over to TODAY. For full results, head to AOL.

Join the discussion

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gabillyjacks February 27 2014 at 2:09 PM

I had rather have the truth rather than be lied to

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J's Damsel February 27 2014 at 8:28 AM

That whole study is a lie. Political Correctness is "Hey, lie to me.". All those who ban me from these boards prefer lies. All those who report me prefer lies.

All those who run to the media every single time something doesn't go their way prefer lies.

Our society is a lie driven force, and has been for years. People don't care if it's a lie, as long as it's nice.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
chetstew45 February 27 2014 at 8:29 AM

I guess Obama and the Dems have not read this story!!!

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1 reply
prawn259 chetstew45 February 27 2014 at 9:02 AM

Am I the only one who has ever noticed that flags and crosses for screen pics indicate that you can ALWAYS predict how asinine the comment will be? ALWAYS? It's as if conservatives thrive on advertising their ignorance before they open their mouths.
By the way, if you think Republicans don't lie, explain Dick Cheney.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Tim Mahoney February 27 2014 at 10:18 AM

Even the US military has a tradition that endures. Don't ask the question if you know you're not prepared to live with the answer. And never, EVER, advise the Emperor about the "truth" of his new set of clothes.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
D R U M G U Y February 27 2014 at 1:01 PM

I am a private music/percussion instructor for well over 25 years, and I've seen many types of students in my teaching practice over the years.

What I'm finding more in the last 5+ years is a lack of interest or ability to handle; instruction, correction and committment among many mid-level teens (13-16/17 years old) and more excuses from adult students about personal practice, which is essential to success.
(I think if we look at our school systems, we may see some things that we'd really question.)

Granted, this type of activity is not necessary to our survival, but it does help teach us about ourselves and is huge in helping our self esteem, if we let it. But, a student has to give it a chance and trust that "person", friend or professional.
A person you're willing to pay has a responsibility to do the right thing and teach you, just as the student has the responsibility to accept. Another matter; I've discovered, a lot of parents are overly protective of their children and think that correction affectss or bruises their self esteem. Well, I'm happy to read that most want the truth, however there is a group out there that I believe does not and wants to "wing it", which may lead to some embarrassment in the future.
Personal feelings: There is a right and a wrong way to learn a skill. Many still want option C, which is usually the long way around. I think core values of hard work, and dedication are changing, and could be replaced with laziness.

Thank you,

Flag Reply +1 rate up
paig55 February 27 2014 at 8:56 AM

Tell me the truth, no matter how painful. I'll get over it!

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1 reply
magus47 paig55 February 27 2014 at 9:14 AM

no you won't. Like most Americans you will simply ignore it or call the person telling you the truth a liar.

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Bill February 27 2014 at 10:12 AM

Any of these types of questions usually indicate projection on the part of the respondent. If some one says that they prefer to be lied to, they are probably apt to lie to others. Those who prefer hearing the truth, are probably truthful to others.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
Marc February 27 2014 at 12:36 PM

Now why would teenaged girls be afraid of the truth? They're all so calm, rational, and controlled, you'd think they would be anxious to hear it.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
SHELDON February 27 2014 at 9:08 AM

No women wants to hear those jeans make her ass look big. LOL

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
jechandle SHELDON February 27 2014 at 9:37 AM

I prime time for the line,
"Ask me no questions, and I'll tell you no lies."

Flag Reply 0 rate up
magus47 February 27 2014 at 9:13 AM

This whole thing is a HUGE crock. Americans avoid the truth like the plague. Even the people who responded to this 'test' lied to themselves because they can't handle the truth. Imagine an honest truthful politician. He couldn't get elected to the school board. Watch TV for a bit. You see any truth there?
Americans fall into the catagory from the movies, "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth."

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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