Telling it Like it Is

sherlockhonestyWe live in a world populated by flawed humans. Some people are more compassionate than others, smarter than others, or have a bigger moral compass, but none of us are perfect. When dealing with people for any length of time it’s inevitable to face situations that require us to decide if we should address a certain issue or zip our lips and overlook.

I find it’s usually best to overlook. If someone behaves badly it’s often better to just “let it go” since addressing some things can be counterproductive. And yet there are those times when we should say something.

Some people hate confrontation so much they flee at the hint of it or resort to dishonesty to escape it. Others seem to live for drama and if annoyed become nastier than the person who wronged them. I don’t like either of these.

I’ve learned over the years in dealing with people, two particular “rules” I try to follow. I’m not always successful, but I try, and I’ve found that if I do these two things it’s easier to live in peace.

  1. Be honest.
  2. Be kind.

Does that sound too simple? It’s not as easy as it looks. Think about it.

We all know honest people, those brutally frank “tell it like it is” types who believe people should just accept them as they are and if we don’t like what they say, too bad because that’s who they are! They think they’re doing well by being honest, but in expressing it they lack compassion. Let’s face it, truth without kindness can often hurt.

Other people are incredibly sweet and hate confrontation so much they will say whatever they think people want to hear whether it’s true or not. These types are often popular at first – until people discover that they lied. And, the truth does come out.

To be both honest and kind is a challenge. For one, if we have to confront someone we may not be feeling too happy with them. The fact we’re having to address something means they’ve done something undesirable, possibly offensive. On the other hand, if we have to confront a person we’re attached to, we run the risk of not being honest enough just to appease them. That’s not always the best because there are times people need to be told the truth.

A rule of thumb for me is to ask myself am I confronting a person because I want to fix a situation, or am I doing it because I’m angry and want to hurt them? If it’s the former, I try to nip things in the bud, framing my words tactfully. The point of the confrontation is to repair things, to put things right to be able to go forward in peace. If it’s the latter, I try to bite my tongue. Motives make all the difference.

What brought this on? Thinking about the people I’ve encountered in Second Life over the years. It may sound silly, but I actually care about people, even those I don’t know well yet. The idea of people coming to my virtual place and feeling welcome is one of my main Second Life goals, not because I want anything from anyone but because I imagine myself in that person’s place. I have a tight knit group of friends, but want new people to feel just as welcome as those who have been there for years. I thoroughly dislike cliques that make others feel excluded, and so I try to be as welcoming as possible to everyone.

There have been times I’ve needed to confront new people on certain behavior. Other times I’ve had to talk to old friends! The purpose was to make things right though, to move forward in peace so things could be even better than before. It’s not always easy and I’ve certainly had my share of screw ups, but I really do try to be honest and kind.

That’s my thoughts for this morning….

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10 Comments

  1. Very nice article Shauna, and very “you”… not that I would expect anything less!

    As infuriating and frustrating as it can be, we are all different, and that is what makes each of us unique works of art… even though our own personal form of “art” is not always anothers cup of tea!

    I try to do the “live and let live” thing, and like you, overlook most things unless they really offend me… I am invariably very honest and truthful (I hate lying!), but sometimes diplomacy has to step in to save the day…

    I know that some people can find me intimidating at times, because I am not generally the shy, retiring type, always ready to voice my ideas and opinions in local chat lol… HOWEVER… I am actually very sensitive, compassionate and caring, and like to think I treat everyone not only equally, but also with respect and consideration…

    I hope that I have never knowingly offended or upset anyone in any reality, unless it can be quantified, and I would also hope that my true “friends” would enlighten me if I ever have or do!

  2. As one of those who can be brutally honest I appreciate Shauna’s tact, and try to exhibit some myself. I don’t set out to correct anyone’s behavior…mainly because I can’t. I can’t make someone do anything…anything. The best I can hope for is to convince them to change themselves. So if I’m addressing someone-else’s behavior my goal is to be both illustrative and redirective; show why their behavior is self-destructive, and offer alternatives that might better serve them…and everyone else in the room.

    Shauna though is in a league of her own. Her abilities along these lines is to my experience unparalleled…and now its good to know how she does it. Shauna’s hospitality is something special, a quality attributed to the royal; grace. A quality I define as the ability to make even the lowest feel they have a place among you (they do), and imbue the loftiest with a sense of welcome for the new, odd, and different. Truly if Shauna’s community is concrete, she’s the Portland cement that holds us together. Hope that wasn’t too ‘engineer-y.’ – Cait

  3. Cait, Sue, Viv, Divine… thank you. Not sure how to respond to kind words other than thank you. Cait, if I had a little blushing emoticon I’d use it. 🙂 Divine, from what I know of you, you generally make a point to be nice to people, and I think it’s cool that you’re outspoken and up for a laugh.

    1. Compliments? What more is there to say but thank you? If you argue you insult the one who offered the compliment. If you probe you look as though you ‘fish’ for additional. In answer to a compliment, ‘Thank you.’ strikes the very tone. – Cait

      P.S. – You’re welcome, but honestly you make that compliment easy to offer.

    2. In which case Shauna, if what you say is true, I have achieved my mission! Thank you!

      Also made me think of what my Mum always used to say to me when I was young : “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all”… if only it were that simple! lol … I think there is an etiquette whereby you have to learn WHEN the RIGHT time is to say exactly what you think, and when it is best to dilute it a bit, or say nothing at all… Some of us learn that and some of us don’t… such is life 😉

  4. Wonderful post. I can’t help but think about the horrible politics going on in the US right now: civility has taken a backseat to what someone feels is his right to say whatever he wants. I think about Anne Lamott’s words: “Either practice being right or practice being kind.” Sometimes we have to let go of what we think is right and consider the relationship we have with that person we want to correct. Being right can become a very lonely occupation.

    I also love a quote from Zulu, er, George Takei: “Freedom of speech requires a certain tolerance. Tolerance does not require acceptance. Strictly, it does not require civility either, but things work a whole lot better with civility.”

    1. I know, right? Nikki Haley makes a point to speak of civility as she counters the State of the Union address. Next day she’s mocked or excoriated for attacking Donald Trump. So much for the message of civility sneaking through…

      I don’t recall Nikki Haley mentioning anyone by name. How did the conservatives attribute her remarks to concern the Donald? May be they see something Nikki didn’t. – Cait

      You perpetuate that which you oppose.

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