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There are a couple of things that can put a major dent in a friendship: talking behind the person’s back, lying, and gossip. What can make a friendship completely spin out of control? When all of the above happens.
But what about when your intentions are (mostly) good? Say you have a piece of gossip that you should tell your friend since it involves them, but you know the repercussions could create fireworks between you, that person, and other people in your circle of friends?
This season of Southern Charm New Orleans has featured plenty of chatter about Jeff’s split with Reagan, who fell back into the arms of her old boyfriend, Reece. But everything got a lot worse when Doug broke the news to Jeff that Reagan's pregnant, at Jeff’s Friendsgiving party (of all places), and that the father is Reece.
It was tough news for Doug to break but even tougher for Jeff to accept (watch the clip above), especially because Reagan had not wanted any kids with him. When other people find out at the party that Jeff now knows the hottest new gossip, Jeff wonders which of them already knew (and why they kept it hush hush), and to make everything even more complicated and ugly, Tamica accuses Jeff of knowing about the baby, which sends him absolutely spiraling.
Did Doug do the right thing, or should he have stayed quiet?
Dr. Catherine Jackson, a licensed clinical psychologist, says that sometimes people are not emotionally ready to handle bad news and we, as their friends, need to assess where they are emotionally and if they have a lot of other things going on that would make this news even more overwhelming — like, say, hosting a Friendsgiving party.
The truth is it’s never what you say but how you say it. So, if you’re in the position of holding on to quality news that you want to desperately tell a friend, but you’re unsure how they’ll react, take note from our experts.
1. Trick Your Friend
Everyone wants to hear bad news in their own preferred way. Since we don’t always know what way that is, we have to sometimes coerce them into letting us know before we stick them with the truth.
Dr. Jamie Long, a licensed clinical psychologist, recommends first asking your friend how they would want you to tell them the news that isn’t so good about their life.
“Ask your friend, hypothetically, how they would want you to handle information that might be hurtful and/or unhelpful to know,” Dr. Long told Personal Space. “If your friend tells you they want to know but then there’s fallout for telling them, validate their emotions by telling them that you know this information is hard to hear. Don’t take it personally if your friend regrets knowing the information. If the emotional fallout continues, gently remind them that they opted in to learn the news, that you are simply honoring the request and you’re on the same team.”
2. Let Them Know Why
When you’re the bearer of tough news, let your friend know that you’re telling them this not because you want to hurt them but because you want to help them.
Danielle Bayard Jackson, communication coach of Give it a Rest Movement, told Personal Space it’s important to lead with vulnerability and figure out why you're so hesitant to share tough news so that the person doesn't misunderstand your intentions.
“For example: 'I was so nervous to bring this to you because the last thing I want you to do is blame me or ice me out, but I care about you too much to stay silent.' This sets the tone for the conversation, letting your friend know you have their best interest at heart, and it also works to relax any impending blame or defensiveness,” Jackson said.
3. Get Help First
Before you face your friend, get help yourself so that you can be fully prepared.
Katie Ziskind, a therapist and the owner of Wisdom Within Counseling, recommends talking privately with a therapist to reflect on your feelings.
“You don’t want to push unresolved emotions on a friend. You want to have come to terms with the news before you share it publicly, so you also show your maturity. Sharing news is best done in person,” Ziskind said. “See if you can be in a private place like a home in case you need to cry comfortably. So, don’t share news in a Starbucks unless you want it to be short and sweet.”
4. Be Smart
If you’re sharing the news not to hurt the other person, be smart about how you do it.
Dr. Jackson says that it’s crucial to not spread the news or share it with anyone else and that you should be prepared for them to be an emotional wreck.
“This means your friend may blame you in some way or be upset with you for bringing the news to them,” Dr. Jackson said. “Offer help and support but give your friend time and space to process the news. Allow them to come to you and do not take their initial reaction personally, as doing so will only make things between the two of you more difficult.”
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