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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Honesty without Tact Is Cruelty #DoYouNeedToBeRight

I stumbled across this quote months ago and it’s one of those things that I’ve read before, but finally, something inside me was ready to receive the message. This happens to me ALL.THE.TIME. Mostly because I know I feel something but I don’t know how I want to express it, so I go on a journey to see if anyone in the world can relate and well, Pinterest is so useful for that.

I tried to find the specific origin of that quote and while it’s been worded in various ways, it seems to me the closest thing I could find was this:

“Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.”
― Warren W. Wiersbe

While the longer quote was by an American pastor, I don’t think you have to be in any way religious to get the basics of this very important message. Let me quickly break the key words down.

  • Truth -  a fact or belief that is accepted as true
  • Love - an intense feeling of deep affection
  • Brutality - great cruelty (behavior that causes pain or suffering)
  • Hypocrisy - the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform
  • Tact - skill in dealing with difficult or delicate situations with sensitivity

  • I’ve based my moral scale for years on being honest. I thought that because I was telling the truth, to whomever I was talking to, I had the right to say what I way saying because it was true. Surely if what one is speaking is absolutely, without a doubt, indeed factually based– that made ME right and if I’m right, that made the other person wrong and in turn - I WIN!!! Winning is the goal isn’t it?

    Off and on for years, I’ve spent many an argument with my husband, thinking I had the right to say how I felt about something without thought or tact (see definition of tact above because I lacked it). He’d told me for years I had no filter and surely, to me, that felt like a compliment, because I was the one willing to be brutally honest. In the back of my mind, I kept wondering why things weren’t getting better in our relationship. If you discuss a problem, point out everything that is wrong, that is all also TRUE and say “let’s fix this”, you’d think -simple solution, problem solved!!! My way IS right, because my way was based on honesty. Isn't that cute?

    But did I win, was anything really ever solved? The answer was no and I don’t know why it took me so long to realize that the issues we were fighting over kept repeating because of my approach. I kept thinking to myself, “I am explaining the same problems over and over again and getting no results” and then I read the quote….

    “Honesty without Tact Is Cruelty”

    What does that even mean? No one wins if you deliver a message, no matter how open and honest you intend it, especially if you package it with hostility and use it as a weapon of mass destruction at the expense of another’s self-esteem. If you are trying to solve problems you can’t, at any time, point out faults, no matter how true they may be and expect the person you are trying to reach to hear and understand your heart’s intent when you are flat out being mean. That’s where I had being going wrong and oh my goodness; you don’t know how hard it is for me to admit that.

    It was then that I realized, for the longest time, my need to be right, far outweighed my need to be kind. What I was saying during any given argument or discussion -as true as it may be, when I spoke, I did so without an ounce of love, respect, humility or thought to what I was saying or how it might be hurtful for my husband to hear. By the time I would finish whatever it was I had to get off my chest, he had already reached a point that he was emotionally cutting me off. Instead of having a discussion that was being productive and useful, I was setting up an unwelcoming environment that created a great divide - me vs. him - right vs. wrong. What I was saying, no matter how well intended, truthful or right I thought I was, I delivered it out of my mouth loaded with cruelty. When you hurt people, you push them away and that’s no way to have a healthy, productive relationship.

    I had been pretending to be a multi-tasking, problem-solver, a go-getter, but I was being a one-sided hypocrite and nagging, chronic complainer. Yes, I was honest, and that can be quite an honorable value to have, but I was lacking the most important traits to go along with it. Patience, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, love and tolerance, these values, when COMBINED with honesty can transform relationship problems into improved partnerships. I was going to have to stop making every fight into a competition.

    I sat on this quote for a bit, I let it simmer and really looked deeply into myself at this point and realized I can apply this quote in nearly every aspect of my life, in every relationship that I have. Issues may still rise up here and there, but I can tell you things started getting way easier for me, when I took the time to mull over what I wanted to communicate, before I let it just spill out.

    I started questioning myself before I would speak, especially on important matters. Was what I about to say not only true, was is kind? Could I present it in a loving way? Would I be willing to listen to the response with tolerance and patience even if the answer wasn’t what I wanted to hear? Could I be forgiving? Above all, could I sacrifice my NEED to be right because I valued my husband more than my ego? 


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