Saturday, January 28, 2012

Which One Is It?

Today's blog topic has been on my mind for a long time, but I never really thought about posting it until recently.  I'm hoping you'll respond, especially if you disagree with me, so I can learn more from the other side.

My parents raised us to be honest kids.  They also raised us to be polite.  And oftentimes, the two don't go hand in hand.  I think there are situations when being honest is absolutely the way to go, but other times I think being polite is the right answer.  I'm beating around the bush, aren't I?

When someone asks for my opinion on something, I (almost) always give them an honest answer.  If a friend tells me they're thinking about cutting their hair and asks if it's a good idea, I am very honest.  However, if someone just purchased a house and asks me if I like it, I could think it's the ugliest home in the world but I will smile and tell them it's beautiful.  The difference between the two is my opinion means absolutely nothing in the second scenario, and I don't think there is any reason to insult someone when there is nothing they can do to change the circumstance.  It's a done deal and they're happy.  In that situation, (to me) being polite is better than being honest.

What do you think?

Another instance is when someone doesn't ask for my opinion at all.  When that is the case, I absolutely don't think it's necessary to give my opinion unless it's positive.  If someone tells me they're naming their baby Mildred Zambonee, it's not my place to tell them I hate that name.  Even if I do. They didn't ask, therefore I don't need to blurt out my true feelings.  (Sidenote: This example is completely made up.  My friends' kiddos truly have the BEST names.  However, many of them have started keeping the name a secret because they've received such negative feedback, even when they didn't ask for it.)

I guess my point is, if you're going to hurt someone's feelings by giving your opinion on something that can't be changed, why do it?  Does this mean I have less integrity or can't be trusted?  I hope not. 

I've had my feelings hurt by people who were brutally honest when I just wish they'd smiled politely because whatever it was, I couldn't change it.  Or in other cases, I wish they hadn't said anything at all because I never asked. 

Let me also point out that I haven't always been like this and I still struggle with it.  If I've known you for more than five minutes, I've hurt your feelings by something I've said.  You've either told me you were hurt or I've seen it in your eyes as soon as I said the statement.  Over the last few years I've become more of the person I described above because I didn't like the opinionated person I'd always been (and still can be).  And now that I make a true effort to think before I speak, I notice how hurtful it can be when I'm on the receiving end.
So my question to you is this--Am I being ridiculous?  Is what I consider being polite actually just a lie?  If you ask my opinion on something you cannot change, do you really want it?

And,  I am asking for your opinion and I can change what I'm doing, so I want you to be honest.  :)   (If you don't feel comfortable commenting, send me an email!) 


Trish said...

Well now you have me very curious what sparked this little post!

My thoughts fall right in line with yours EXCEPT sometimes my answer also depends on the person and how well I know them. But generally if I can avoid hurting someone's feelings when there is nothing said person can do, I go that route. Or at least I think I do.

Though, if I ask someone's opinion, I really value the honesty. Nothing drives me more batty than when I find out AFTER the fact that person (ahem,Scott) thought XYZ was a bad idea.

My mom was SO against me naming Elle Elle. And even though I love her name, people have a hard time understanding what I'm saying. Today someone thought her name was Elf. Bahhhhahaha! Hate to admit my mom may have been right!

Leslie said...

I agree with you completely. It all comes down to whether or not you've been asked, and whether or not that request is a genuine request for feedback on a matter that can still be decided. And for the record, there is a reason that I very frequently seek your advice from decisions as petty as fashion and as important as baby have great taste and wise advice! (And it doesn't hurt that you know me pretty darn well :)

Mildred Zambonee said...

It's interesting what you find when you google your own name!

Sorry, sis - I had to. As I'm sure you are aware, I've struggled with this one a lot, too. Of course, my general emotional ineptitude means I usually stick with the honesty route, not knowing any better. Further, I've found that even when I try the polite/dishonest route, my facial expressions betray me. I think you've caught me at that, too.

Kaitlin said...

I think if they ask you for an opinion, they are most likely looking for an honest reaction. I think this is especially true for people you know well (like me when I ask fashion advice--tell me the truth! Though your face pretty much tells me all I need to know :). However, if you walk into someone's home that you find hideous, you can politely say it's a nice home/a beautiful home/etc, even if you don't personally find it so...Beauty is in the eye of the beholder...and to them, it's beautiful.

Allyson said...

Thank you so much for this post. I just found your blog, and I'm so excited to be your newest follower! This post really resonated with me. I struggle with this too, and I was so encouraged to hear that it's not just me. Check out my blog, Cupcakes and Candy Canes, sometime!



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