"I don't care what you think about me, as long as you don't tell me," I once overheard a person saying.

It would seem to me that many of us act upon the belief that our loved ones feel this way. Husbands and wives avoid telling their spouses about what is bothering them in their relationship, because they don't want them to be upset. Parents "help" their children by covering up for them when they make a mistake, signing notes excusing them for not doing their homework so as to shield them from the negative consequences, rather than insisting that they own up to their failure to meet their responsibilities. In a work environment, people refrain from criticizing their colleagues, employees or employers; as a result, no one knows what is really happening until it is too late to fix the situation.

This brings to mind the old adage: "If you give a person a fish, you help them for a day; but if you teach them how to fish, you help them for a lifetime." Although teaching a person how to fish is a longer process and may involve difficulty and discomfort in the short term, it is the only way to bring about real change and make a real difference in his or her life.

If we truly wish want to help our spouse, child or colleague, we need to be open and frank about what we see is going wrong. If we hold back our thoughts, the situation will not get better by itself.

We are sometimes so afraid that we may hurt the other person that we avoid telling them the truth. By doing so, we will be hurting them a lot more in the long run.

People may like you because you don't hurt their feelings with the truth. But they will respect you much more if they know exactly where they stand with you. If they know what you think and can trust you to be "up front" with them, they can be certain that they only thing you will do behind their back is give them a pat.

Obviously, we must take care to present our criticism in an appropriate manner, and at an appropriate place and time.

And to the person quoted at the beginning of the article, I would counter with the classic business slogan: "If I am doing something right, tell others; if I am doing something wrong, please tell me".