Does anyone ever just say what they mean? Like no-holds-barred, tell it like it is, kick-you-in-the-crotch and spit-on-your-neck honest?
I find myself having to resist this urge lately. I find myself in a few (very few) relationships lately with people who I think need a pretty severe reality slap. People whose expectations and outlooks are seriously out of whack with reality and possibility. I tend to be neutral, to let these people vent or get out their feelings, without really telling them what I think. I’m a relatively honest person in that I don’t lie very well and don’t feel the need to lie, especially about how I feel about things in my life. But I’m not confrontational and I won’t be completely honest about how I feel about YOU and your behavior.
I am starting to reconsider this approach. Is it doing anyone any good? I try to put myself in their shoes. Would I want someone to take my hand and gently, but firmly, tell me to get a grip? I think yes. I would, I do appreciate when someone points out my (ridiculous) behavior and suggests perhaps I should look at it from another point of view.
Why do we shy away from the hard talk? We seem to respect it in our characters in television, movies and books. Gregory House and Elizabeth Bennett are a few that come to mind. Everyone knows that the only opinion on American Idol that counted was Simon Cowell’s because he wasn’t afraid to say what he really thought.
What about in real life? I think I respect someone who would not be afraid to be honest with me, who would not hesitate to lay it on the line. But would I? Or would I just think, man he’s rude? Or wow, what a bitch?
In my writing classes, I find myself going overboard to be effusive about others’ work. Is this really helpful? I do it because 1) I want to be “nice”, I want people to like me; and 2) because I know how hard it is to put your work out there and I really want to encourage other writers. I remember needing the praise (and still do). But. Isn’t there a way to encourage without falsity? In my own critiques, I dismiss people who are effusive. I listen to the ones that offer me real insight and tell me what’s wrong. Because it makes me better.
I am thinking of trying an experiment. Of spending a whole week in honesty. Of gently, but firmly, putting the truth out there and seeing what happens. Of not flinching from the consequences, of not worrying about what others think of me, of not being concerned with whether I am liked or not.
Now, I’m not talking about the nuances and dances that are necessary in relationships. I am not going to walk around and spout out honesty at people like a weapon. And I’m not talking about going overboard. I have an acquaintance who is unreasonably rude and unyielding. She uses honesty as her excuse. She says “I’m not being rude, I’m just being honest.” No, she’s being rude. Being rude is not what I’m going for.
But if you ask me what I think? I’m going to try honesty. Consider this your notice and your warning.
I’ll let you know how it goes. Eek.