While shopping recently I was browsing a rack of tops with a friend when I happened upon a particularly ugly (or so I thought) sweater. Pulling it up to show my friend, I said, “Good God, look at this. Isn’t it hideous?” As soon as the words came out of my mouth I saw a woman standing in front of me wearing that very sweater. (I still think it looked hideous) Needless to say, I was somewhat red faced. I crammed the offensive item back into the rack and moved on down the aisle muttering a quasi-apology. Realizing taste is very personal and unique to each of us, I was suddenly conscious of my habit of thinking out loud and it occurred to me that without meaning to, my opinion could offend another. Surely I can’t be the only person guilty of speaking their mind? That said, it got me thinking.
Is it really wrong to tell it like it is? I mean that same woman might have laughingly looked at my attire and thought it ugly. (She’d be wrong of course, but it’s a free country….) Or maybe it could’ve prompted her to rethink her fashion sense. Either way, isn’t it our very differences that make us interesting, unique even?
In another scenario, my husband and I were at an intimate dinner party, some years ago. During a discussion about various foods my husband happened to mention he loathed rice and had all his life. He went on to describe them as tasteless pellets. Well, you can imagine the look on several faces around the table when each was served an Asian stir fry on top of a pile of (the offending) rice. Most were completely unaware of the furtive glances between our hosts but my husband looked clearly uncomfortable. Needless to say he shoved down as much as he could, boasting about how delicious it was and how he’d been converted. (I still hear about his ‘sacrifice’ to this day) Now, like me, he had no intention of offending anyone, he simply spoke his mind. (had they served potatoes, this awkwardness could’ve been avoided)
Is it our subconscious that speaks without thinking or are we very much aware of our flippancies. And what are the repercussions of honestly speaking our mind? I mean it’s not like it could kill you. (If uttering untimely or inappropriate things is truly the innocent result of the subconscious mind how is it Don Cherry hasn’t choked to death yet?)
I’ll admit there are times we regret having spoken out loud – we’re all guilty of telling it like it is on occasion but that can’t always be bad. No matter how carefully we choose our words there will always be someone who misinterprets their meaning. As long as we are open, honest, and sensitive to our delivery, we should always speak our mind because life is too short to hide behind our unexpressed thoughts, besides, speaking your mind clearly and intelligently can influence others to see your point of view. Not everything is seen as a criticism. (Ok, the sweater was truly ghastly but I suppose I didn’t need to voice it out loud)
That said, there are situations where tact and diplomacy must take precedence. If it’s constructive and adds value to a conversation, spit it out. If it in any way offends another, or halts an otherwise pleasant conversation, bite your tongue, cause nobody wants to hear it.
Me, I’m a work in progress. I aim to be engaging and open in any conversation and for the most part I succeed, but if I’m faced with a situation where my emotions get the better of me, biting my tongue might be too little too late. Maybe I’ll try pulling my hair instead.