It is very tempting to be brutally honest when someone messes up or something goes completely wrong.

With the old adage “misery loves company” in mind – I am definitely not above having a complaint fest or commiserating with my likeminded comrades. It definitely feels good at that moment but when it’s over I don’t feel very energized to do anything to turn the situation around.

I am also not a person who tends to sugarcoat things but I have learned that pointing out other people’s failures doesn’t win you long lasting friends or allies … because while people may applaud you for having the guts to say what everyone else is thinking, they can’t help wondering who will be the next target (…possibly them!).

In my experience striking a balance between being foreright about what hasn’t or doesn’t work with being sincerely interested in fixing or making things better – is a more effective method for seeking others’ support in affecting change.

Let’s do a test.

Read these statements and take a note of how you feel after reading each.

  • That was a complete failure.
  • This outcome was not what we had hoped for.
  • You don’t know what you are talking about.
  • It seems like you don’t have all the facts.
  • What were you thinking?
  • It looks like you overlooked several areas.
  • Can’t you get anything right?
  • Did you consider all the viable options?
  • You haven’t succeeded in anything you tried.
  • It seems like what you have tried has not worked well for you.

Ok – I think you get the gist.

You can still point out what went wrong without putting the other person on the attack or inciting others.

So the next time you feel yourself drawn to a person who tells it like it is … ask yourself – how he/she makes you feel … hopeful about the future? Or doomed to repeat past failures!