Who is your friend?
If indeed thoughts are the most powerful forces in the universe – then we should explore what thoughts a friend should have.
A friend could be a family member or not, a colleague, brother in arms or just someone we know for a long time.
On one hand, the words friend and friendly denote something congenial. Something that is fun and kind, giving and helpful… a smile perhaps.
But is that really what a friend is all about?
Let’s examine this life situation.
You are at dinner with two friends. You are eating corn on the cob. After a few bites, a corn kernel is stuck on your cheek.
You look ridiculous with it on your face.
One of your friends thinks: oh man, this is ridiculous, I would like to say something – but I worry that if I do I will embarrass the person who now has a kernel of corn on their face…
The other friend, has the same thoughts, and yet, motions to you that you have something on your face.
You are embarrassed for a little while, clean your face, and move on.
Which one is your true friend?
If being a friend means only saying nice things, and only approving of your thoughts, words and deeds – you are basically getting an echo chamber of yourself, of your thoughts.
It’s as if there is NO ONE with you.
Perhaps the definition of a friend is someone who will hold a “mirror” to what you are doing, even if it means that the mirror image may not be fun to watch.
No one wants to be told they have corn on their cheek, or spinach between their teeth. Yet, by saying it, and holding a mirror, you are providing the person a perspective they did not have. You are giving them something they can not give themselves. You are being a friend.
You are providing them a way to stop being ridiculous because you care about them. If you did not care, you would simple say nothing.
If you extrapolate this scenario, it may swing the pendulum to extremes. For example, your friend is asking you if they should marry the person they have been dating…
You may have your own thoughts about the propensity of the relationship to last. You want the best for your friend and don’t want to say something that may sound negative. After all, your friend may be hitched to this other person for years to come.
What should a friend do?
To examine this, let’s review a common practice in the work environment – giving feedback to employees, and even letting them go for lackluster performance (or worse).
Imagine you are the manager, and your employee has been struggling for a while with getting their work done on time, done to a standard of quality etc.
You agonize over it, you lose sleep, you may get ill over the uneasiness of having to confront them.
Not fun to say the least.
The employee, surely feeling awful about the situation also, is dreading the feedback session. They feel ashamed of their work output, they feel they have let you down. They feel like they are no good.
Both sides have a hard time having this discussion, no doubt.
Again, who is a real friend in a feedback session like this? The manager who will skip over the difficult parts and let the employee slide further into a point of no return? Or the manager who will hold a mirror to their behavior, as hard and unpleasant as it may be?
If you find yourself on the receiving end of uncomfortable feedback, from a friend, colleague, boss, family member – think about how they must feel.
They agonized over what they are telling you, and they would rather say nice things to you. They wish that they did not need to get to the point of telling you what is wrong.
When someone gives you feedback you may not like hearing – yet that person may be you real friend.
At the right time, you may want to balance the forces, and thank them for what they said and did. Thank them for being a friend and holding the mirror to your face, as hard as it may be to do. Thank them for not giving up on you, by saying nothing. Apologize to them if they had a hard time getting to point of confronting you. Also for losing sleep or falling ill over it.
They have spent real-life currency making this effort. The kind of effort, only someone who really cares about you would make. A real friend.
(This is a good time to think of someone who gave you honest feedback and helped you see that what you are doing may not be great – and thank them)
Click here for Chapter 28
References and Quotes:
According to a 19th century legend, the Truth and the Lie meet one day. The Lie says to the Truth: “It’s a marvelous day today”! The Truth looks up to the skies and sighs, for the day was really beautiful. They spend a lot of time together, ultimately arriving beside a well. The Lie tells the Truth: “The water is very nice, let’s take a bath together!” The Truth, once again suspicious, tests the water and discovers that it indeed is very nice. They undress and start bathing. Suddenly, the Lie comes out of the water, puts on the clothes of the Truth and runs away. The furious Truth comes out of the well and runs everywhere to find the Lie and to get her clothes back. The World, seeing the Truth naked, turns its gaze away, with contempt and rage.
The poor Truth returns to the well and disappears forever, hiding therein, its shame. Since then, the Lie travels around the world, dressed as the Truth, satisfying the needs of society, because, the World, in any case, harbours no wish at all to meet the naked Truth.
“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”