Monday, December 10, 2012

Motivational Monday #75 - The Truth Doesn't Have to Hurt

I remember my mother telling me that it isn't what you say, but how you say it that matters.  I always wondered about that advice.  I mean, really, some things are bad, no matter how they are framed.  For example, "You are ugly," is no worse than "Um, no, uhhh, I think you look fine."  "Your breath stinks," is no better than, "Wow! You need a mint!" 

Sometimes it doesn't matter how the thought is conveyed, the message is the same..."This isn't going to be nice, but the truth is...."

Many of us are good at sugar coating the truth.  Things like, "That dress is a lovely shade of armadillo gray," or "I am so glad you could spend the last seven hours telling me all about your pet aardvark" are thinly veiled attempts at saying, AAAACK, What was that!?!?!?!

When it comes to telling the flat and blunt truth, many of us are a little squeamish. It feels reprehensible to tell people that we don't value the same things, and isn't that what it is really about?  If we loved aardvarks as much as our friend, those seven hours would have flown right by!

So, in an attempt to be kind, we pretend to value our friend's thoughts/ideas/hobbies/tastes/preferences as much as our own.  And there is the rub.  Is it lying, or is it kindness?

My kids are in the stage where they want my joyous approval of everything they do.  And by everything, I mean everything.  It is a common occurrence in my house to approve hair brushing, toilet flushing, banana mushing.  After a while I am so overwhelmed by rubber stamping the activities going on around me that I want to slap a dumb grin on my face and start giggling to myself.  (Not a good look for me, I might add.)

My rational brain wants to tell them the truth.  I want to tell them that their hair still resembles a rat's nest, that they have to hold the toilet handle all the way down to finish a flush, and that mashed bananas are not really a form of art.  My maternal side tells me to encourage them and be positive.  Have I ever mentioned my maternal side is annoying?

To be blunt, or not to be blunt, that is the question.  Well, actually, it is not the question.  I think the real question is do we think it is fair to crush the happiness of others by flatly imposing our views on them?  Maybe mushed bananas are art.  (For the record, I doubt it, but I could be wrong...)

Telling someone they are ugly is me deciding I know what beauty looks like, and that they don't measure up.  So, they might be beautiful, or they might not be, I'm not really qualified to know.  The same thing goes for most opinion based statements. 

So the next time someone asks you to honestly tell them what you think, remember that your reality is no better than theirs, and you can decide whether or not the truth has to hurt.  Chances are, there are plenty of truths that are kind.  So maybe my mother was right, it's not what you say, but how you say it that matters. Maybe that armadillo gray is just perfect!

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