My husband and I are “hashers”, my term for people who speak the truth about issues as they recognize them. Being upfront about what we see as reality generally serves us in that there is not a lot of tip-toeing around problems. Instead, we lay it all out on the table as soon as possible so we can resolve it as soon as possible. The conundrum with serving the truth straight up is that it is often taken as offense to emotional lightweights …and sometimes it’s our turn to be the lightweights.
One evening after a long day of work preceded by a long few weeks of balancing all the responsibilities of adult-ing with my goals and dreams, I went on an unexpected rant about lacking the energy or time for all the things I want to do in a day. My husband, with the best of intentions, made a remark that not only hurt my feelings but, for a moment, killed all my dreams and triggered a bunch of old wounds that suddenly bubbled to the surface in a rush. At first, I was furious, then I was sad. After a few hours, I recalled his exact words and realized he wasn’t entirely wrong. We later hashed it out in a conversation in which I got to express my displeasure with his word choice and appreciation of his honesty. He got to apologize and learned a lesson in the consequences of what and how one says things.
At some point in the day, or during our week, or in life we are not ready for hard truths without a chaser. There are moments I need it on the rocks (tough love) or prefer it in a hard cocktail with a lime – not quite sugar-coated but still easier to swallow. However, when we are too busy “keeping it 100”, we may miss the important cues of the receiver not being at the mental or emotional level required to toss back what your serving, regardless of how honest it is. This is where communication often breaks down.
There are some pretty common examples of how, in reference to the Chappelle Show, “keeping it real goes wrong.” Maybe we make a joke about someone else’s poor decision-making which can cause embarrassment and lead to anger and mistrust. Perhaps, we give unsolicited advice when the receiver is only looking for a supportive ear. Maybe the truth would have been more easily accepted had our word choice been less harsh. Of course, there are plenty of circumstances in which it’s up to the receiver to be mature and ready enough to handle the message in spite of the delivery. Also, the intention of the hasher is another important factor which will hopefully be an intuitive guide whilst unveiling the listeners’ proverbial eyes.
Compassion is key whenever we are interacting with almost everyone. Sometimes situations call for toughness in the name of genuine concern but other times it calls for a milder touch. When we are truly aware, we are more likely to tell the difference, be wise in our approach and maybe someone will grant us the same consideration when we are on the other end.
So tell me …when was a time you went a bit too far with dishing out the truth? Or, when was the last time you were on the receiving end of an inconsiderate truth-teller? Please share!