Recently, while home alone, I passed a mirror and realized that I had something in my teeth. Thankfully I caught it before I walked out the door! But, because I seem wired for turning every life experience into a teaching moment, it got me thinking; how many of the people in my life would be real with me if they saw a flaw that I did not?

It’s an important question because the reality is, in life; lettuce in our teeth is one of the milder issues. So many things can escape our notice. That outside, objective perspective so often provides a much clearer view. But will the people in our lives share what they see?

It begs the question; what kinds of people am I doing life with? I thought of several categories. Which best describe your friends, family members, colleagues and acquaintances?

1. No laugh – No tell – No Gossip: This person sees the issue but diverts their eyes. They bury the secret deep. They never speak of it. Not to you or anyone else. So, on the one hand, they are not engaging in recreational communication at your expense. That is good. However, you are not receiving the benefit of their perspective.

2. Tell – Gossip: At least this kind of friend does tell you. But then they proceed to spread the good word far and wide. Talking to individuals not involved for recreation.

3. Laugh – No Tell – Gossip – Laugh More: This is the worst. They say nothing to you but tell everyone else they know to get a good laugh about it later at your expense. I have to admit, with some embarrassment, to an incident where I absolutely did this. I will give myself grace, however. It was high school and it involved our math teacher. His pants were split up the entire back and he had no idea. He kept walking around the room bending over to help various students with their assignment. I would not react the same now, but back then life couldn’t get any better.

4. Tell – Support – Done: These friends will point it out and then give you the response you need to work through it, whether it’s a good laugh at the object stuck in your teeth or compassion for the mess you’ve made in your life. And then it’s done. They will not speak of it to others. There is no need for gossip.

I think that any of us would prefer the friend who will point it out with compassion and let us work through it. Sometimes the lettuce is an attitude or a behavior. Maybe it’s a choice we’ve made. No one is perfect so we all experience moments where we need that clear outside perspective.

So, what kind of company are you keeping? Are there some relationships that need work or need to go?

And, perhaps more importantly, which kind of friend are you? To what lengths are you willing to go to be the got your back person to the people in your life? Sometimes it is scary to share what we see. So, what kind of friend will you be?