What can you say to someone in the name of honesty?
What latitude can you allow yourself?
Lately, (in my personal life) I have been on the receiving end of the honesty stick and I am still limping around from its blows. And it’s made me reassess the subtle variants–nuances if you like–of this wonderful trait we all seek, both in people and in ourselves.
Ask around and you may be surprised to find out that most people will gloat about their “straightforwardness” , their “no bullshit attitude”, their “tough love approach”, etc. Then, poke around a little inside their current relationships and you will often discover many bruised, angry, guarded, weary, defensive, confused, and dejected people. Sisters who watch the phone ring when the “honest” person calls. Friends who cringe at the thought of having to spend another evening with the “straightforward” person. Colleagues who’d rather eat ramen noodles, sealed into their cubicles, than sit across this “tough love pusher” in the office cafeteria.
And of course, confront the “honest” person and she or he will vehemently defend his reckless verbal abandonment he or she calls “telling people what they need to hear.”
They are doing us all a service. They are being altruistic. They are telling you and me what we don’t know about ourselves.
They are doing us a favor.
They are telling us THE TRUTH.
Oh yeah? Well, in the words of Garth, “Squeeze me? Bacon powder?”
What truth would that be? Do these people have copyrights on Truth?
I think not.
When a person close to you hurts your feelings and belittles you–all in the name of HONESTY–they are not being frank for your sake.
They are being rude. Period.
So, am I advocating sugar coating here? Fuck yeah. Life is hard enough, ugly enough, complicated enough for everyone. And we all have our own very very critical voice inside our heads. We need our friends and family to help us rise above ourselves and our faults, but need them to do it with care and sensibility.
Diplomacy is not a weakness. It is a sign of great emotional maturity.