On the Psychology of Exaggerating and Downplaying Friends
Two of the most common defense mechanisms that many people commit towards their friends are exaggerating and downplaying.
When a person does exaggerating as a habit, it may be seen as her attempt to assert her believability because she knows deep inside that her credibility is low, so she feels the need to exaggerate things.
She tends to exaggerate some qualities of her friends because she thinks that, by doing so, she gets also portions of the praises and the credits. Therefore, exaggerating your friend's qualities or achievements is actually self-centered--it's all about you and not about your friend. You exaggerate something about your friend not for her to gain praises but for the illusion that you yourself are the one who's earning the praises. It's like reaping or partaking of the fruits of the labors of others.
This is similar also to exaggerating the qualities of one's own country to achieve a false sense of national pride. People who habitually exaggerate know deep inside that what they are claiming is untrue, so they are deluding not only others to impress them but also themselves.
Now, this is the reverse. It is the tendency to minimize the significance of someone or something or to make something or someone appear less important than it really is.
The primary reasons a person would downplay qualities or achievements of her friends are feelings of insecurity and envy, either because she feels threatened by a friend's positive qualities; or, because of her insecurity, she feels that the higher the praises her friends gets, the lesser her own accomplishments are being noticed--so, she develops the tendency to withhold due praises for the friend because she feels that this is hurting her own ego.
People who find difficulty in praising their friends or who rarely acknowledge the accomplishments of their own friends are obviously doing downplaying, most likely because they feel envious of them or praising them lessens their own sense of achievement.
The Last Leaf
Give due, proper, and exact credit and praises. If a friend of yours won 1 million in a lottery, don't tell people that he won 5 million. If a friend is good at boxing, don't tell everyone that he is good also in being a politician when he is obviously not.
Be honest. Be exact. Don't be delusional. Don't exaggerate.
On the other hand, if your friend is good at something, acknowledge this. As a friend, reaffirm his qualities. Acknowledge his accomplishments. Don't feel threatened by this. Don't let this diminishes your own sense of achievement. Don't feel a lesser person every time you praise other people.
Be fair. Be honest. Be a real friend...whether in front of them or behind their backs.