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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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nightaudio February 27 2014 at 6:27 PM

What about tact ? Is that a lost art ? Truth is good, but one must use some judgment about what to say, how much to say, and when .

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agsassoc February 27 2014 at 10:33 AM

Girls can't handle the truth

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1 reply
ldrthmaul agsassoc February 27 2014 at 10:55 AM

"Girls can't handle the truth"

THAT'S the truth and this article is bullcrap. Every woman says they want an honest man, but when a guy is actually honest with them, nothing pisses them off more. Tell a woman what you really think of her new haircut and see what happens. It sure as hell won't be a thank you for your honesty.

There's several studies that show that the brains of women are physically adapted to be better liars than men are. They have far more white brain cells in their frontal lobe which allows them to lie without feeling guilt. Women are far more social than men are and the best way to be liked by the group is by being a good liar and telling people what they want to hear and keeping them happy.

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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.

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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.

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Richard February 27 2014 at 10:02 AM

Hate the truth? Don't ask me any questions.

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stengernc February 27 2014 at 9:46 AM

What is truth??? Based on global history the human mind can become a weapon of mass destruction. Capitalism prefers deception when they market their products. Politicians have become the minions of the super rich feeding us deceit to mask over the policies of the rich. The federal reserve creates money out of thin air saying it is backed by gold but you can't ever inventory the gold to prove this idea. Religion is based on ancient superstitions, fears and myths with a few life's lessons thrown in but the sad part is that religion is being used by the powerful to control your lives.....show me that you live after dying.....where is the truth....there is none so they call it faith.....we are devoid of truth but full of deceit and deception to foster an agenda of control over our lives by others. Over population will prove one truth though, there will be more chaos, wars and anger then ever....we are starting to see the results now.

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2 replies
RussianBallerina stengernc February 27 2014 at 9:58 AM

It could be that by the maya calendar & the 2400 year cyle, we are at the depth of the dark age. now we are moving slowly up toward the Golden Age in another 1200. Maybe that's why we have all the things you aforementioned

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elinor stengernc February 27 2014 at 10:01 AM

IF YOU CAN'T IDENTIFY TRUTH ? POOR BABY IS ALL I CAN SAY. I SORTA MISQUOTED THE FIRST REPLY. IT IS "KNOWING" THE TRUTH THAT SETS YOU FREE. WHEN YOU CAN SHOW ME SOLID " FACTS" THERE IS NOT GOD ? THEN DON'T ASK ANYONE TO GIVE YOU SOLID FACTS THERE IS GOD... YOU EXPERIENCE HIM. YOU DON'T TRY HIM OR CHECK HIM OUT. HE IS LIKE THE WIND. YOU CAN'T SEE THE WIND BUT YOU CAN FEEL IT AND SEE THE RESULTS OF IT. LIKE , A SUMMER BREEZE ON YOUR FACE. OR LOOKING AT THE DEVASTATION A TORNADO LEAVES BEHIND . I WOULD MUCH RATHER THERE BE GOD ! I WANT SOMEONE IN MY LIFE THAT KNOWS MORE THAN ME. AND I LOVE HAVING HIM TO TALK TO. HE IS MY ROCK. MY SALVATION. AND THE LOVES ME EVEN IF I ACT LIKE A JERK.

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1 reply
mielkele elinor February 27 2014 at 10:18 AM

Do you know where your caps lock key is - use it.

Flag +1 rate up
SPQR February 27 2014 at 9:42 AM

Men have to lie to their women and tell them they are not fat all the time

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1 reply
elinor SPQR February 27 2014 at 10:03 AM

NO ! THEY DON'T HAVE TO LIE. THEY CHOOSE TO LIE.

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Twanchese February 27 2014 at 9:31 AM

telling the truth is the best option or chase your lies an get caught in one

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1 reply
Twanchese Twanchese February 27 2014 at 9:32 AM

like this

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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
brennemanbelkin February 27 2014 at 10:43 AM

I always tell the truth. Even when I lie.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
anewdk brennemanbelkin February 27 2014 at 10:53 AM

Tony Montana......

Flag Reply 0 rate up
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