Has someone ever said something to you that left you with hurt feelings? Or have you caused someone else to experience this emotion? We all have been on both the giving and receiving end with this one. Someone asks you for your honest opinion, you give it to them in a kind way, and the person walks away with hurt feelings. As my mother-in-law used to always say, “Be careful of asking for someone’s opinion. The person may give it to you.”
Honesty is always the best policy. But if someone asks you for your opinion and if the person perceives that your comments are derogatory, there is a problem. The good news is that you can alleviate any negative feelings quickly.
Alleviate Hurt Feelings
First, let’s understand why honestly giving someone your opinion (which they asked for!) can cause hurt feelings.
Cognition and emotion go hand in hand, with the latter preceding the former. In other words, what we hear may prompt a negative feeling. Once a negative feeling has erupted, it doesn’t do any good to try to convince the person that the way he or she feels is wrong—that you meant what you said to be constructive rather than critical. You have to deal with the way the person feels first.
The best approach to resolving the situation is to ask the person one simple question: “Are you angry with me or with what I said?” This will prompt the person to reflect. It will also diffuse the negative feelings because you have redirected the focus.
Tip: We all want to be honest with others, but we need to realize people can interpret our honesty as derogatory or negative. Having a good question to ask when we give our opinion is simply good preparation.
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