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.