The Thin Line: Cruel vs.Honest
People often abuse the word “honest” and use it as a weapon to be cruel. When you truly care about someone, you can still be honest without being cruel. There is a fine line between the two and that line is called tact.
1. A keen sense of what to say or do to avoid giving offense; skill in dealing with difficult or delicate situations.
2. A keen sense of what is appropriate, tasteful, or aesthetically pleasing; taste; discrimination.
I wrote a poem back in November of 2011 for no reason other than I was in a dark place and wanted to create something beautiful. I wasn’t looking for praise, just a little ray of light to shine down my dark path. I shared my poem with a few friends; my way of letting them know that even through my immense struggle I was hopeful. One of my “friends” responded to the poem by sending me an article about why poems shouldn’t rhyme. Really? This is when I started evaluating whether or not this person really cared about me or whether he just loved hearing himself speak. I realize now, many months later that he was the kind of person that loved success as long as he was the only one enjoying it.
I offered another “friend” a free copy of the first book I ever wrote; an accomplishment I was proud of because it also helped me out of a dark place. She replied with “I don’t want it, I’m not a big reader so I probably won’t read it anyway”. I could have replied back with how ignorant it is for her to not embrace reading, but it’s not my place to judge. “I’m just being honest,” she said after. Hmm. Honest? No, it was cruel; a cruel answer that could’ve been handled with more sensitivity. If the roles were reversed I would have probably said, “I’d love a copy, I am so proud of you”. Not promising I’m going to read it, but at least showing my support.
In another instance, I was trying on clothes and I asked a good friend of mine what she thought of my dress. She could have said, “It makes you look really fat,” which would have been “honest” but also “cruel”. Instead she said, “I think we can find something that would be more flattering for your figure”. It is the same thing in essence, but it was said with love, not malice and that really is the difference.
Lesson for the day: Always be honest with a friend, but use tact in how you speak to them, because after all if you really do care about them, then you wouldn’t say things that you know would hurt their feelings.
Posted on July 5, 2012, in My Two Cents and tagged communication, conversation, cruel, delicate situations, dialogue, friendship, honest, Honesty, sensitivity, tact. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.