When we care about people, it’s hard not to want to micromanage their lives—at least a little. There are also times when we perhaps don’t like someone that much, but that person is in our lives, whether we like it or not, and we have to keep the peace with him or her. Tact is a very important thing to have in life. You know this is true, because the individuals you know who have no tact drive you crazy. You don’t want to see them. You’re embarrassed to bring them places. You’re frustrated hearing they’ll be at the next family gathering or friends dinner party. As adults (the mature ones, at least), we have an unspoken agreement to all do our part in showing some tact if and when it means maintaining the peace in our relationships. But, the truth is many of us had to learn that the hard way, by once having little tact, and destroying relationships. Here are times to keep your opinions to yourself to save your relationships.
You friend’s new beau
So you meet your good friend’s new boyfriend—it’s still very early, very casual—and you see some major red flags. You don’t like this guy and/or don’t think he’s right for your friend. Okay, hang on. They’ve been dating for, like, two months. You know how many two-month things never go anywhere. Speaking up now could cause a fight for nothing, because she was going to break up with him anyways. If things get serious, you can speak up.
Your obnoxious stepparent
One of your parents remarried and you find her spouse to be very annoying. He just gets too worked up about politics or is a bit too conservative for your taste if or just so dorky. Well, look, so long as he treats your parent right and seems to make her happy, just smile, nod, and say he’s great. If he weren’t there, she’d be alone, and then you’d worry about her constantly. Plus, it’s not easy being a stepparent.
When you get bad advice
Someone gives you advice that you know, immediately, you won’t be taking. There are so many reasons it wouldn’t work out. There are so many holes in that proposed plan. That’s okay—you can just smile, say, “Thank you, I’ll think about that” and not take the advice. The person is just trying to help. You don’t need to tell him he’s stupid.
Your friend is pregnant
Okay so, for a while, your friend was talking about perhaps having kids. She did consult you. It was clear to you, due to the fact that she’s…broke or…her marriage is on the rocks…that this is not the time for her to have kids. But now she’s telling you she’s pregnant, and she’s happy. It’s time to forget all the reasons this was a bad idea and congratulate her: she’s pregnant now and there’s no going back. (And suggesting someone gets an abortion is not really appropriate).
A potential hire
So someone you know is going to hire someone else you know who you…don’t like. You don’t really know how the person is professionally, but personally, you don’t like her. Don’t say that to the hiring party. You have no right getting in the way of somebody’s chance to make a living, even if you don’t like her.
When it’s not your area of expertise
Any time you have a strong opinion on something that could be life-altering for someone—like whether or not they open that business, take that promotion, or buy that property—if it is not your area of expertise, be conservative with your opinions. If someone really cherishes your opinion, that’s a big responsibility that’s not to be taken lightly. So if you don’t know what you’re talking about, and your opinion could change this person’s life, think long and hard before giving it.
The trust fund friend
We likely all know someone like this—somebody who doesn’t have to work for a living. Clearly, her idle life isn’t great for her. She fixates on and panics over tiny things because she has no real problems, and nothing big to put her energy into. She’s listless. You could suggest that if she just got a job she’d realize that, like, none of her current problems actually matter. But that doesn’t sound very nice, does it? Look, this person is an adult. If she wanted to get a job by now, she would.
“Should I date this person?”
A friend of yours is considering dating another friend of yours. Personally, you know of some, err, quirks of the latter friend, that the former may not love. But, you never know—you aren’t the one getting romantically involved with the person. Just because you find one trait a bit annoying in someone, doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be the perfect match for somebody else. Unless you know of some very terrible and dangerous flaw, just let the two date, and see how they feel about each other. They’re adults.
Your friend’s new home
So your friend bought a home. She wants you to see it. She’s already made the offer and it’s been accepted. Or, she’s already moved in. She is so excited about it but you…you know some things about this neighborhood that aren’t so great. Or you identify something about the architecture that could affect the light she gets in her place. Keep that to yourself. She already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on this place—tell her you love it.
After any big purchase
Really, any time somebody makes a big purchase—from $700 hair extensions to a $14,000 car to a $400,000 condo to a $100,000 business—show complete enthusiasm, even if you have your concerns. You don’t help by stating your concerns. The money has been spent. What this person needs now is support and encouragement to make the best of things.
Your friend’s career advancement
If you believe your friend’s career would do much better if she just did this or did that, sit back and ask yourself: does she want me to be her career coach or her friend? Let me put it this way: if she wanted your career advice, she’d have asked for it.
Your friend’s friend is a b*tch
Your good friend wants you to meet her other good friend. You do and you…can’t stand her other good friend. Oh my gosh—how could this person you love so much like someone you dislike so much? Before you speak up, try to think how you’d feel if somebody spoke badly about one of your friends. You’d get defensive. You’d feel that person didn’t care about your feelings. Don’t say anything. It’s not like you have to hang out with that other friend.
Someone else got the opportunity
So somebody else go the opportunity that you were after. Quite frankly, you don’t think she was qualified for it. In fact, you think nepotism—or something like that—is at play. Don’t talk about that. It won’t change things. You won’t have the opportunity now. You’ll just sound bitter. And, if that other person catches word of it, she certainly won’t help you in the future.
When someone is in a huff
When someone has made a huge mistake and is suffering the consequences, do not say, “I told you so.” At least not right now. Don’t say it when this person is crying/yelling/having a melt down. Let the emotions pass. You can talk, calmly, later about what went wrong, and how she can do things differently next time.
When you can’t trust the person
Any time you share your opinion with someone, ask yourself if you can trust that person. This is especially true if you’re sharing a negative opinion about somebody else. It’s not uncommon for someone to say she “really wants your opinion” all so she can use it against you.