It is my longtime observation that honesty is a desired quality in seeking an interpersonal relationship. However, when thoughtless yet honest words pour out of the human mouth it is counterproductive. Considerate adults should mold an unpleasant honest truth into an appeasing euphuism or smooth talk. Years ago, a young woman and I were sweethearts and smooched often. She routinely stoked my ego by saying that I was a good kisser. One evening during a lip smacking session after she whispered for the second or third time that I was a good kisser, I asked if I was the best kisser that she had ever kissed. Much to my chagrin, I discovered that she was no diplomat. It would have been acceptable for her to say something in the order of, “I never compare. I only know that you kiss good.”
Instead she said after a brief moment, “Umm, not really but close.”
Eventually she noticed my declined enthusiasm and apologetically explained that she was just being honest and she thought that I wanted her to be honest. I thought to myself, “You’re more tactless than honest.” The lesson I learned that evening was to never ask a question if I couldn’t stand the honest answer.
Though honesty has its place in relationships there’s also something call “Diplomacy,” which when applied would allow you to deal with touchy situations and emerge with your relationship and decorum intact.
Diplomacy is applied, for instance, when you tell a reckless driving friend that you heard that the city is scrapped for; therefore, traffic cops are writing big-fine tickets on the slightest traffic violation. That way the driver wouldn’t be annoyed although you subtly implied that he or she drives with caution. Similarly diplomacy is applied when a woman buys a homely dress, wig, etc. and asks you if you like it. The honest answer would likely ruin the rest of the evening; however, the diplomatic answer would be something like, “I think that I would like the dress less if it was on somebody else; however, your natural beauty overpowers the dress, wig… or whatever.”
It might work, might not, but at least the evening won’t be ruined by hurt feelings.
Unfortunately, most couples do not take into account the times that diplomacy must be applied to circumvent counterproductive situations; therefore, it is often mislabeled as lying. Couples are notorious for saying they want their significant other to be totally honest; however, this is an unrealistic expectation. I believe that most realistic expectations of honesty are focused on infidelity and malicious lying; however, diplomacy is acceptable.
Among the many dilemmas a couple might face is answering a question regarding their mates’ skill or prowess in a certain area. If you value the relationship more than you value competing with “Honest Abe” be tactful. Such a setting opens the door for a ruined evening if unadulterated unflattering honesty is spoken.
If you can’t come up with anything diplomatic then praise and highly endorse the characteristic of discussion. Most people, especially those similar to me, really don’t want honesty when it’s unflattering regardless of what they tell you. Besides deep down they know that they’re not all that; therefore, be wise and practice diplomacy.
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