We’ve all had occasional moments when we’ve said something we shouldn’t have. It happens. But many of us have filters that keep our thoughts from escaping our mouths – at least, most of the time.
For other people who have no filter, it can be almost impossible to show restraint in how they communicate with others. They may ask inappropriate questions, make offensive remarks, or speak something they’re thinking. Often, no-filter people don’t intentionally mean to upset anyone, but that’s often part of the aftermath of their conversations.
Do you have a friend, relative, partner, or coworker who can’t seem to keep their thoughts to themselves? You might be dealing with a person with no filter. This relationship can be tricky to navigate, but here are some tips that can help:
Think About the Benefits of Being Close to Someone With No Filter
Having no filter isn’t necessarily always a bad thing. As with any personality trait, having no filter can come with some perks for both the unfiltered person and you. Thinking about it more positively might help you see this person in a new light. Here’s how an unfiltered relationship can be a good thing:
Spontaneity Can Be Fun
Unfiltered people are often spontaneous, just like their conversations. They don’t tend to hold back as much as others, and they may carry their spontaneity with them in other aspects of their lives. It might be fun to travel and take on new adventures with people who aren’t timid in how they talk or act.
People who don’t have social filters are honest. Yes, they’re sometimes honest to a fault. But knowing you can depend on them to tell the truth by saying what they’re thinking can sometimes be refreshing.
If you’re ever in need of someone who can tell it like it is without sugarcoating their words, then searching for one of these individuals is your best bet.
They Can Be Funny
If they’re not making comments at the expense of others, then you’ll probably find that your friend or acquaintance is hilarious. People who don’t watch what they say without saying it are less reserved when it comes to making jokes that can keep everyone laughing.
They Exude Confidence
People in the unfiltered category say what they think without worrying about how others perceive them or feel about what they said. Confidence abounds in people will no filter, which can help them through many situations they encounter.
They’re Brave and Unafraid
With confidence often comes bravery when faced with other situations. You might notice that these people aren’t just unafraid to say what they think, but they’re also unafraid to face most situations into which they walk.
They Can Be Excellent Conversationalists
Without a filter to hold them back, a person can be great at starting and maintaining conversations. Their conversations may not always match what you had in mind. But you’ll probably never have a shortage of topics to talk about when you’re with a no-filter individual.
They Can Be Empathetic
It seems like people who lack a conversational filter are anything but empathetic. But when it’s a person very close to you, their non-filtered self could have the exact opposite effect.
Think about it: You’re having a conversation and ask for advice. Your friend certainly won’t be one to hold back. They’ll tell you exactly what they think, even if it’s difficult for you to hear. However, what they’re showing is empathy for your situation and suggestions for how to deal with it.
It may not come across as empathy, but it is in your friend’s unique way.
They Can Make Decisions Quickly
It usually doesn’t take long for a spontaneous, no-filter person to decide what to eat, where to go, or what activity to do. If you ever have an important decision that you need help navigating, you can probably count on this person to help you without overthinking the options.
Understand Cultural, Behavioral, and Familial Differences
Before being too judgmental of someone who seems to have no filter, you should consider a few crucial points.
First, some people get raised in a family of unfiltered people. Their parents and siblings all say what’s on their mind. Their family get-togethers are no-holds-barred gatherings of unfiltered conversations. Your family might be more reserved and quieter than others, which probably seems very different from outgoing people in your life.
Individuals brought up in specific cultures can also seem very abrupt in the way they talk to others, when, in fact, it’s part of their culture. Language and cultural behavior barriers can also make a difference. People with intellectual or behavioral disorders, such as autism or ADHD, sometimes seem like they have no filter because it’s challenging for them to control what they say.
Although being blatantly rude is never okay, it’s important to remember that what seems like rudeness to you may not be perceived the same way by everyone. Sometimes, unfiltered words aren’t easily controllable by the person giving them.
Think About Your Relationship
Who is this person to you? Is it:
- A close friend?
- A parent or sibling?
- Your child?
- Another relative?
- Your spouse/partner?
- A coworker?
- A professional you collaborate with (doctor, lawyer, accountant)?
The relationship between you and this no-filter person can significantly affect how you deal with the problem. It can be much more difficult for you to correct or address a relative than it would be for you to do the same with an acquaintance. On the other hand, words from a close friend or family member can hurt more deeply than words from someone you don’t know well.
Before you read the other tips for dealing with a person with no filter, you should consider your relationship, whether it’s healthy for you, and what it means to you. Navigating the problem with coworkers, for example, will require a different approach than with your child or spouse, especially if your boss or human resources needs to get involved.
In some cases, bringing in an outside source can help you get the situation under control. Working together with your partner to help your child, for instance, can give you extra support. In other cases, such as with a friend, you might decide to handle the problem on your own, so you don’t embarrass your friend.
Consider the Effects of the Problem on Others
Next, think about how this person’s inability to control their words might be affecting others, or if it affects others at all. Your best friend might only be unfiltered around you but shy around other friends in your group, probably because she feels close and comfortable with you.
That doesn’t make it okay to become a punching bag for your friend. But it’s also important to note that her words are only affecting you rather than others. This can also change the approach you take to curb your friend’s unfiltered ways, like having a heart-to-heart conversation instead of involving other friends.
However, if this person tends to speak without thinking to anyone they come across, you have a bigger problem to deal with that may require involvement from people outside of your relationship. This is especially true with coworkers, professionals you work with, and relatives.
Try Not to Take It Personally
It’s crucial to remember that, most of the time, people with no filter don’t mean to offend others. They just don’t tend to think about what they say before they say it. So, if someone says something to you that hurts your feelings, you should think about it for a moment.
Was this person saying it to hurt you purposefully? Or, were they only blurting out words without thinking? They may even have been attempting to make a generalized statement that seemed more like a personal attack because of how they verbalized it.
The best thing you can do for yourself when you’re with an unfiltered person is to try not to take their comments personally. Let it roll off your back as you remind yourself that it’s probably not personal. It’s a challenge to do, but it’ll also help you protect your feelings while you try to navigate how to deal with or coach the other person into filtering their language.
Help Them Dodge the Awkwardness
Think about the last time you were with this person and caught yourself in an awkward interaction because of something they said. It’s possible that they, too, felt incredibly uncomfortable after realizing what they said and how it might have affected others, but they didn’t know how to defuse the situation.
In this case, you can try to step in and help. Make a lighthearted, non-offensive joke. Come to your friend’s defense and say, “I think what she meant to say was…” Or, change the subject to something else everyone can talk about.
Being there for the person and helping them maneuver themselves out of a sticky situation can be one of the best ways to support the individual without criticizing them or making them feel more embarrassed.
Ignore Inappropriate Comments
If possible, ignore comments that are rude, inappropriate, or meaningless, especially if you think the other person is making those comments to get a reaction. That may be the case in some situations, so you’ll need to gauge whether it’s happening.
Does this person keep making repetitive comments, almost like they’re trying to see how others will react to what they’re saying? If so, they’re thriving off the responses they get when they say something rude or offensive. If you don’t get reactive by showing anger, sadness, or frustration, then the novelty will eventually wear off.
If you’re with others when this person spouts rude comments, you can react by apologizing to them and ignoring the other person. A simple, “I’m truly sorry that my friend just said that. He shouldn’t have made that comment.” Explaining this shows that you hear what they’re saying, don’t accept it, and feel sorry for others who have to endure it, too, without being reactive and satisfying the offender.
Have a Mindful Response
Taking a few seconds to tune into your emotions when you’re around people without filters can help you create mindful responses that can be more impactful than reacting out of anger or frustration. Although ignoring comments can sometimes help, like when you’re around other people, it’s a good idea to respond to inappropriate behavior in more intimate settings.
This allows you to explain your feelings and how this person is affecting you. Before you give a response to something they say, take a second to breathe, think about what they said, and tune into how it makes you feel.
Then, explain your thoughts honestly. For example, “It really hurts me when you joke about me being a bad driver. I’ve been trying hard to be more careful. You say comments all the time that make me feel like I’m not making progress, and I’d appreciate it if you’d stop.”
This response explains your feelings, why they’re valid, and how this person has affected your confidence. Be clear in your communication, and make sure you say everything you needed to say without being aggressive or offensive.
Point It Out Kindly
No one is going to change overnight. You can’t expect a person who usually says whatever is on their mind to do that, either, especially if they’re not yet ready to make the full leap into filtered communication.
But what you can do is give them gentle reminders when they’re speaking without thinking. Small steps can go a long way, and they may have no idea how often they do this. You don’t necessarily need to point out every flawed comment, but you can give a quick look or tap on the shoulder when it happens to point it out.
The goal is to get them to become more mindful of controlling their words by recognizing when it happens. You don’t need to make them feel bad, too, to get the point across. Kindness and calmness can go a long way here.
Guide and Redirect Them When It Happens Again
Mistakes are going to happen when you’re dealing with no-filter people. They’re not always going to recognize when they’re saying something that comes off as rude. If this is someone that you’re very close to and want to see do better, then you’re going to need to ride the wave with them.
It starts with guidance. Once you’ve spent some time pointing out when the person makes unpleasant remarks, then move onto guiding them. During this phase, you’ll want to explain why their comments weren’t okay. For instance, “Commenting on someone’s weight is never reasonable. I don’t think he heard you, but imagine if he did? Someone else struggling with self-image could have heard, too.”
Use your kind words to help the person see how their words can harm others – even when the intended subject didn’t hear them. Words can be hugely impactful, but with gentle guidance from you, your friend, relative, or coworker can, hopefully, get on track with more mindful conversations.
Have a Strict “No-Gossip” Rule
One way that unfiltered people might display their habit is through gossiping. For example, before a work meeting, your coworker might start telling you rumors they’ve heard about other people who work in your office. Gossiping is not only rude, but it can be quite uncomfortable for you when someone pulls you into it.
It’s important to enact a strict “no-gossip” rule when you’re around this person. If they start talking about others, you can say, “No, thank you. I don’t want to talk or hear about anyone.” Try to disengage yourself from the conversation as quickly as possible without making a fuss or scene.
Or, walk away if they continue talking without respecting your choice. It’s impossible to gossip when no one is around to listen!
Again, depending on your relationship with this person, you might choose to get others involved. A gossipy coworker might need to be dealt with by human resources, especially if they’re affecting the overall atmosphere in your office.
Don’t Allow Them to Turn the Tables
A person might try to make you feel bad for offending them or being dramatic or sensitive when you confront them about their social tactics. When this happens, you might feel thrown off balance if you’re not expecting it. And if the person is convincing enough, they may even have you convinced that you did something wrong.
Stick to your guns and remain firm in how you’re feeling. Don’t back down or allow yourself to feel bullied, especially if you know that you were considerate in your conversation.
Try to remain calm and don’t get defensive. Reacting negatively to the person’s abrasiveness can quickly spiral the conversation into an argument, leading to no definite resolution. Instead, repeat what you initially said, including how the interactions made you feel and why.
If the person continues to take your words to the extreme and gets defensive, remove yourself from the conversation quickly to keep it from escalating. You can always revisit it later when you’ve both cooled down.
Take a Break to Collect Your Thoughts
It can be draining to consistently be the one to help the person in your life who remains unfiltered but know that you’re doing a good deed. If this is someone very close to you, then it can be beneficial for them to have your unwavering support. But their support shouldn’t come at the expense of your mental well-being.
When you feel like you need a break from this person, take one. It can be a five-minute break to hide in the bathroom, get your thoughts together, or even release a quick cry. Or, it could be a week-long break to rejuvenate yourself and get your head in the right space to continue helping.
Whatever you feel like you need, do it. You’re only going to be able to help this person as long as you have the motivation and desire to do so. By removing yourself from the situation for as long as you need, you’re giving yourself a necessary mental vacation that can prevent you from reacting negatively and affecting progress.
Patience can be tough to grasp when dealing with people who can’t control how their thoughts come out, but it’s necessary if you expect them to improve their behavior. Expressing anger or disappointment can end up reverting the progress you’ve made rather than propelling it forward.
It might help to talk about a long-term strategy with the person to keep making positive steps toward change. This conversation can help both of you understand what the goal is and how to get there while reminding you that the process can take time.
Write It All Down
Do you express your thoughts better when you write them down? Or, would writing a letter to the filter-free person make more of an impact than having a conversation with them about how they interact with others? If yes to either question, then you should consider writing a letter.
Not everyone responds well to confrontation when it’s right in front of them. However, a letter can come across as friendlier and more personal, which could be enough to provoke positive changes in your friend or loved one.
Instead of pointing out every conversational flaw the person makes, you can also jot it down or put it in a note on your phone. When the time comes for you to have a talk or write a letter to that person, you’ll have plenty of notes to support what you’re saying.
This strategy isn’t to bombard your friend with evidence. Instead, use it to guide your thoughts and words, so you can accurately explain how you feel with as much conviction as possible.
Writing can also come in handy if you use it to journal your thoughts rather than directing them to the person who’s bothering you. You might not always feel like it’s appropriate to confront a person with no filter but writing down your feelings can get them off your chest and help you feel more at peace after a stressful interaction.
Pull in Other Supportive Figures
There might be circumstances when getting support from other people could be the best move in dealing with an unfiltered person in your life. The support could come in the form of people who support you and your well-being or those who want to assist the other person in their self-improvement.
Examples of figures who might be able to help either party include:
- A parent, sibling, or relative
- A trusted coach or teacher
- A therapist or life coach
- A support group
- A church, religious leader, or spiritual group
- A teammate or coworker
- A friend or group of friends
You should find someone or a group of people you feel comfortable with sharing your thoughts. They might also assist you in assessing your relationship to determine whether it’s healthy to remain invested. They can also shed light on suggestions that could help you work through the situation.
If you believe you know of someone who could help your friend or loved one understand how to communicate with people better, then suggest this to your friend rather than asking an outsider for help. Doing so shows that you care without going over their head and potentially hurting their feelings.
Reconsider Your Relationship
If, after implementing the steps relevant to your relationship, the person doesn’t see their wrongdoing or care to improve, you’ll need to decide if your relationship is worth keeping. It’s time to reconsider what this person means to you and whether your relationship is good or bad for your well-being.
This reconsideration, unfortunately, can be tricky when your relationship is with someone you can’t easily cut off, like a relative. But you can find ways to decrease contact as much as possible, such as removing them from your social media channels and blocking text messages.
In the case of a working relationship that you can’t terminate, you may need to discuss the problem with your boss or human resources. If your relationship severely affects your work, then your company should find a way to navigate the problem that works for all parties involved.
Is it an unfiltered friend who’s causing drama? It might be time to let them go. If your attempts at talking to them and guiding them through conversations haven’t helped, then they may not be ready or willing to change their ways. It’s always okay to remove yourself from a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, stressed, or anxious.
Remember: It’s your choice whether you want to help a person in your life who thrives on unfiltered communication. But it’s never a necessity to do so to the point of damaging your mental health. Tread lightly with your guidance, be patient, consider the perks of having an unfiltered acquaintance or loved one, and think about stepping back from someone unwilling to change for the better.