I think we all know someone who is outspoken or opinionated. They ‘tell it like it is’, whether you want to hear it or not, and while it may be tiresome at times, it generally isn’t offensive. It’s who they are and everyone they speak to knows exactly how they feel, without asking. I’ve always been told I am direct, that’s me. But I’d like to think I stop short of being offensive because much as I have strong opinions, I have no desire to convert anyone or strong arm them into my way of thinking. If you want an honest opinion, I’ll give it to you, good or bad, but I will temper my response because I don’t want to hurt any feelings, any more than I’d want mine hurt.
What is tiresome however is the one who speaks their mind with no regard as to how what they say is being perceived because they appear to have no filter. They offer their honest opinion (usually unsolicited) with little concern as to whether or not it hurts or offends because ‘they have a right to speak their mind…..and if you can’t take it….(the truth, that is)…. it’s not their fault, i.e. it’s your problem.”
This outspoken individual will criticize another’s appearance, (“Have you thought of waxing that mustache, or do you not notice it?”) or question their preferences, (“So you actually like your hair that colour?” ) or they flippantly put you in your place when you utter something they deem to be stupid, (“don’t be ridiculous” ,or they might say nothing because what you’ve said isn’t worthy of a response, so they blow it off with a wave of their hand) In short, they dismiss you; more importantly, they dismiss your feelings.
I know someone who has no such filter. In fact, I know a few. (I bet we all do) They speak their mind seeming to delight in the reactions of their audience, which makes me wonder,,,is that why they do it? Is it a matter of shocking people so they purposely choose opposing views? Or is it simply an attention seeking device coming from an insecure soul who thinks they elevate their own image by publicly lowering that of others? The older (and wiser?) I get, the more I lean to the latter. And with that mindset (the older and wiser part) I also have no desire to be around such people so I distance myself because contrary to their need for ‘freedom of speech’, I have no need to listen to it. (That’s the beauty of getting older!)
The real kicker here is that I honestly believe these individuals aren’t consciously aware that they are perceived as an obnoxious loudmouth, and if challenged will take one of two stands. The mature, confident, and secure loudmouth will be mortified that they have been somehow offending another and discipline themselves through self-reflection to ‘pay attention’ to their own conversations. The insecure and immature loudmouth will get their back up and look to rally support from bystanders to agree with their opinion, “don’t tell me you like that hair colour on her, c’mon”.
At the end of the day, we all have opinions but what many of us lack is self-awareness. Perhaps we all need at some time, to be filmed while in a dialogue – the replay might be the jolt we need to see ourselves as we really are. Or maybe what we need to see is the reaction of our audience to what we are saying. Either way, I think we could all do to pay attention to our delivery and consider the feelings of those around us. While I do not condone lying, ever, I do not see the point of telling the cold hard truth when it means wounding another.
If an individual asks for your honest opinion, give it…just pay attention to how you deliver it. And if they don’t ask for your opinion, don’t feel compelled to give it. Put yourself in their shoes and try to imagine what it’d be like to be on the receiving end of your ‘honest opinion’. They may not like what they hear but if they solicit your advice, it’s because they really want it, good or bad (just don’t broadcast it in a crowded room) They deserve to hear the truth and obviously trust your judgement enough to risk hearing it, but there are ways however, to deliver ‘the truth’ without shocking or offending, and if you can’t manage that, follow the old adage “if you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all”, or be prepared to spend a lot of time alone in the future.