Telling Your Loved One the Painful Truth – Do’s & Don’ts

What do you do when you’re faced with the difficult task of telling a loved one something unpleasant about them? Something that may hurt them, some painful truth?

Maybe it’s something about their character, or their behavior. Either way, there are ways to tell your loved one something harsh without insulting them.

You may not mean to hurt their feelings but as it’s been said many times, the truth hurts. And indeed sometimes it does. So here are some thoughts that will help lighten the load.

Do’s of Telling Your Loved One the Painful Truth

DO Think it Through

Before you have this sensitive conversation with your loved one, think it through. Use the 5Ws rule: Who; What; When; Where; Why.

Who – Who is this person to you? If you don’t have a good relationship, you may not be the right person for the job.

What – Think about what it is exactly that you need to say. You’ve heard the saying, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Well, it also is what you say. So decide on a clear message of what you need to convey.

When & Where – Sometimes, timing is everything. Be considerate. Think about whether or not it’s the right time and place.

If your loved one is going through a tough experience, consider waiting a bit, unless it’s something related to the situation.

Wait for the right time and say it in private.

Why – Think about your motives. Why is this something you should say? What’s your goal? Will this painful truth add value? Is it helpful?

If your goal is just to inflict pain, you’re not the reading the right post. Perhaps a little read on kindness might help because #kindnessmatters.

DO Be Graceful, Respectful and Tactful.

I’ve had some experience in this area in a very unpleasant way. There was someone who would blurt things out at me in anger (in the middle of an argument) and worse, she didn’t care who was present at the moment.

I’ve also dealt with someone who uses the excuse that she’s “honest” and “straightforward” as an excuse for being totally insulting.

Some folks tend to use the pretense of being honest as an excuse for being rude, unpleasant and even hateful.

NEWSFLASH, you can treat your loved one respectfully even when you’re telling them something they don’t want to hear.

DO Understand You’re Not Everyone’s Keeper

Some people are under the impression that it is their duty to point out others’ flaws. Yeah, don’t be that guy…totally unpleasant dude to be around!

Telling your loved ones painful truth

DON’TS of Telling Your Loved Ones Painful Truths

DON’T Be a Jerk

I don’t think there’s much explanation needed here. If you keep the do’s in mind, you shouldn’t have a problem with this one.

DON’T Be Judgmental

It’s so easy to judge others according to your own standards. But try not to get caught up in that mindset.

It’s hard to convey empathy when we’re too busy judging.

DON’T Be Passive Aggressive

Don’t throw hints up in the air and hope they stick. I find it funny and ironic when people are being passive aggressive at the same time they claim to be honest and straightforward.


Sooner or later, you may be faced with having to tell a loved one something that will hurt their feelings. And you have to choose how to do it. Hope these tips help. 

“Telling the truth and making someone cry is better than telling a lie and making someone smile.”

Paolo Coelho

Do you have a helpful tip for how you approach this? Please share below. 

With love,

Judy Dove

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