“This photo of you is not good!” said an editor of mine over drinks. She was adding me on social media and was surprised by my profile pic. “This doesn’t even look like you! You look too old in it. You’re prettier and younger-looking in real life.”
Wow! That was honest, I thought. I also secretly agreed with her. That night, I changed the profile picture on all of my social media platforms.
In an age where people filter everything—from a picture of a fish taco to a thinly veiled insult in a work email—it’s refreshing when somebody is wholeheartedly honest and real, isn’t it?
Here are 3 times it’s OK to be 100 percent filter free in your life and relationships:
1. When Someone Is Asking You to Be
There is an old saying: “When someone asks you to be honest, they actually mean be kind.” This is true to an extent, as we all expect caring feedback in our lives. But if a mature person in your life is asking for direct, constructive feedback, don’t be afraid to offer it. Just do so warmly with what’s known as the “feedback sandwich”:
Kind opening – candid feedback – kind close. Just like my editor friend (sans the request, but I still appreciated it)!
2. When Someone Is About to Make an Obvious Mistake
An unflattering photo is one thing, but if, for an example, a friend or colleague tells you they plan to ask for a sizeable raise, and you know they have a reputation as a total flake at work, it can be much more gentle to ask them some questions first.
You can open a dialogue with, “What research have you done into market salaries for your role so far?” or “Hey, want to run me through your stand-out achievements this year, to practice?” In an indirect way, they are likely to become more realistic in their approach.
3. When Your Intuition Makes It Impossible Not To
I used to despise my best friend’s ex-boyfriend. He was rude and obnoxious to her friends. His sole hobby was smoking pot while playing computer games. But it was her choice. She would always complain about him, but behind closed doors, I had a strong feeling he was emotionally abusive (or worse).
One night, when she was crying (again!), I said, “Every cell in my body is urging you to break up with him. I’ve felt this way for months. I feel in my heart he’s bad for you. And I don’t think it will ever get any better. But it’s your relationship, your life. If you decide to stay, please just don’t talk about him to me anymore.”
She told me my abrupt decision to not listen to her complaints anymore was the jolt she needed to break it off. The truth was, I couldn’t hold it in. It was not an intentional ultimatum, but my vibe of “change your situation or stop complaining” had a positive impact. There was no filter I could apply—even if I tried.
If you really struggle to give any type of criticism, adopt this tip from Tony Robbins. He opens his constructive statements with, “My hallucination is…”
So instead of saying, “This deck looks amateur,” you can respond with, “My hallucination is, with a sprinkle of X and Y, this will receive a much better response.” Or instead of saying, “That dress is unflattering,” you can react with, “My hallucination is, wearing your new skinny jeans and that white cami will totally knock his socks off!” (You can use your own wording if it's more natural!)
In a world that can sometimes feel consumed by filters and fakery, authenticity and truth is not only required—it's generous. It’s real. It’s loving. And what’s better than that?
Susie Moore is Greatist's life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!