You care about your friends, maybe even love them like family. Because of that, you want what’s best for them. Your desire to help requires you to bring up challenging subjects from time to time.
If you have legitimate concerns about approaching certain issues, your friend might not respond warmly, at least at first. You need to tread lightly to avoid creating a permanent rift.
With that in mind, here are hints for how to broach five difficult topics with a friend because sometimes, love requires tough conversations.
You walk a particularly fine line when talking about health. Many people understandably resent health advice that comes from someone other than their doctor. It’s usually better to remain quiet unless their habits pose an immediate threat to their health or that of others.
For example, if you notice your friend’s drinking going from the occasional happy hour indulgence to a nightly bottle, you should express your concern lovingly and tactfully. Please try to avoid triggering words like “alcoholic,” and instead, say something like, “I’ve noticed you are drinking more than usual lately. Is there something going on that you need to vent?”
Try to encourage activities that don’t revolve around problematic behavior. If your friend is in recovery from drugs and alcohol, much of their former existence may have centered around substance use — so help them to keep busy. Create a sober environment and encourage new interests that can occupy their time.
A person’s marriage, like their dietary choices, is generally off-limits to outside discussion. However, you must act as a loving friend if you suspect someone you care about is caught in an abusive relationship.
If you do, please let your friend know that you are concerned about their safety — when their partner is nowhere within earshot, of course. Reassure them that the circumstances are not their fault and that you will support them no matter what they decide to do. Please don’t pressure them into leaving if they don’t feel ready — even a trauma therapist can’t make that determination for another.
However, you can help them create a safety plan to get out in a hurry if need be. As an outsider, you can assist with finding alternative living arrangements, even job leads, if they decide to flee.
“Don’t you love getting unsolicited advice,” said no parent, ever. Assuming your friend isn’t abusing their child, you have to be careful issuing parenting tips.
Please remember that what worked for you and your children may not do the trick for others. Each child is a unique human being — and parents embrace various styles that might not match what you did with your littles. Different doesn’t mean negative.
Instead of offering tips, listen and ask questions. Let your friend broach the topic — they will if they want your help.
You might feel most comfortable helping your friends with career advice. They may even ask you for tips on how to succeed if you do well while they struggle.
However, you still need to exercise tact to avoid sounding like a know-it-all. If your friend is struggling to find a position that pays a living wage, it’s not helpful to recite platitudes about “working your way back up the ladder” — especially if they recently lost a lucrative position amid the pandemic and find themselves in today’s market.
However, if they want tips on how to rock their next office happy hour, feel free. Likewise, if you can connect them with available opportunities, they’ll remember your kindness.
You love your friend for all their quirks — flaws make your pal unique and human. However, if you notice destructive behavioral patterns, please find a caring way to address them. Your friend might not realize that their sarcastic “must be nice” response makes you reluctant to share the news of your upcoming vacation or bathroom remodel.
Instead of avoiding them, first, try letting them know how their behavior makes you feel. Use plenty of I-statements so that you don’t sound accusatory or start an argument. “I feel nervous sharing my good news with you because I’m afraid it will make you feel resentful,” facilitates honest communication much better than, “You’re always such a grouch. What’s the point of even trying to talk with you?”
Know How to Broach These 5 Difficult Topics With a Friend
It’s challenging to bring up the five emotionally charged subjects above. However, sometimes true friendship requires you to have conversations about difficult topics — use these tips to help.