I started to live by a certain rule in recent years and as soon as I did, I became extremely aware of other people who also live by that rule and those who…do not. Here is my rule: never give feedback unless it is asked for. Do my friends sometimes buy an outfit that I think is an atrocity? Yes. Do my friends sometimes overdo it on the facial injections? Absolutely. Do they sometimes sleep with guys that I don’t approve of? For sure. But I don’t say a word unless they ask me what I think. I made this rule after realizing how much I can’t stand it when people give me unsolicited feedback. Look, naturally if a friend wants to give me feedback on how to be a better friend to her or if my boyfriend needs to give me feedback on how to meet his needs as a partner, that’s totally acceptable. But some people just hand out feedback left and right about things that really don’t affect them. My friend’s outfit doesn’t affect me. If she seems happy, then that’s that. I don’t have to say something about how it could benefit from a waist belt. Maintaining a good dynamic with my friend is more important than perfecting her outfit. Here are times nobody wants unsolicited feedback—I promise.
How to lose weight
Do not tell a friend how to lose weight. Definitely don’t do this if she hasn’t expressed interest in losing weight and don’t even do it if she is trying to lose weight. That’s just not something to say to someone on a weight loss journey. She’s already overwhelmed with information.
How to get a man
Unless your friend asks for your input on how she should be handling dates differently or interacting with men, don’t tell her how to. Not even if it’s so glaringly obvious what the problem is.
How to keep a man
Don’t tell a friend who can’t seem to stay in a relationship for long what to do to stay in a relationship unless she asks you. I understand you want to help your friend find happiness, but this feedback will just sound like you blaming her.
How to decorate
So you’re not crazy about your friend’s décor. That’s okay—it’s not your home. You don’t have to be there every day. So you don’t need to tell her that she should really change the wall color or get better furniture. Just sit down and focus on the conversation. You’re only there for a little while.
How to get a better job
Even if you know your friend could be making much more money at such and such a job, if she tells you she’s happy in her current position, then just drop it. Advising her to try to change her job will sound like you’re saying her job is undesirable.
How to dress to flatter
The fact that your friend wears a cut of jeans that make her muffin top stand out or a color of blouse that doesn’t work for her eyes really doesn’t affect you. It doesn’t change whether or not you have fun with this friend. So…keep that note to yourself. It won’t be welcome.
How to be a better partner
Maybe you notice your friend dropping the ball in her relationship. You think she should talk to her partner this way or make more of an effort in this way. Sadly, she’ll have to learn that on her own unless she asks for your input. If you point out her relationship shortcomings, she’ll feel like you don’t support her and she won’t talk to you about her relationship anymore.
How to be a better daughter
Mother daughter relationships are complicated. Maybe it’s obvious to you that your friend makes a certain mistake in her relationship with her mom. But you just can’t say it—it’ll sound like you’re taking her mom’s side. Then your friend won’t feel comfortable venting to you about her mom anymore.
How to clean
Think your friend’s place could use a little tidying up? Don’t recommend a housekeeper if she didn’t ask for one. Don’t recommend a cleaning product if she didn’t ask about one. Again, this isn’t your home: you’re just passing through.
How to do makeup
So your friend goes a little too heavy on the blush or you think some contouring would really do her round cheeks some good. Keep that to yourself. Her makeup has no impact on her ability to be a good friend to you. However, your notes on her makeup make her feel like you’re a mean friend.
How to hide that/cover that up
Whatever it is—a belly, a stretch mark, a zit—if she didn’t ask you how to cover it up, don’t tell her. Don’t tell anyone. For all you know, someone isn’t even aware of that “flaw” and good for them—it’s nice to be blissfully unaware of such unimportant things.
How to wear your hair
Sometimes your friends are going to get haircuts, new hair colors, or extensions that you really don’t think suit their face. Keep that to yourself. I mean—there’s very little the person can do about it now so, all you’d be doing by mentioning it is making them insecure.
How to do your job
Perhaps you think your friend would see better results in her business if she changed her product in this manner or spoke to her clients in another way. You can go ahead and take that to the grave. Nobody appreciates when an outsider—who has no experience in their work—comes in and tells them how to do the thing they’ve sweat and bled for for years.
How to pursue your passion
Does your friend want to be a singer? Or a writer? Do you think she should stop doing that warbley thing with her voice on stage? Or use fewer ellipses in her writing? You don’t need to tell her that. From you, her friend, she just needs encouragement. The world will criticize her enough as it is.
How to be more likeable
Not everybody is going to love your friend. Maybe she just doesn’t have one of those bright and bubbly personalities. But, don’t try to change her so that your other friends approve of her. If you love her how she is, then that should be that.