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Lead with Love

How to Tell Someone You're Upset: Part One

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No one likes to be criticized and few people react well when told they did something wrong. You can tell yourself that negative feedback is an opportunity to grow, etc., etc., but the reality is when someone is upset with you, it's hard not to flinch.

So the next time you want to let someone know that something she/he did bothered/upset/hurt you, remember how it feels to receive that, and practice these steps:

  •  Calm down. What you're upset about now may seem insignificant a week from now; if the offense is really big, even more important to be prepared. Take some time, take a deep breath, take five.
  • Be fair. We all have a part in every interaction, and we are capable of weaving a story based on our assumptions. No one is 100% right or blameless.
  • Remember the big picture. This is someone you care about and you want to make things better between you. (Unless what you really want is punishment, in which case stop reading right now and go to
  • No  texting.  Repeat that three times while peeling your self-righteously quivering fingers off the phone. Texting is a NO NO. Email isn't much better; I've heard of few successful resolutions that happened via email. The phone will do in a pinch, but in person is best.
  • Time it right. Now go ask the person who has hurt/offended/bothered/angered you if they have time to talk with you about something on your mind. Just because you are ready to talk, doesn't mean they are. Agree on a good time to sit down and talk.

Next Up: How to Talk when it's Time to Talk