Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Random Thought No. 001 : Brutal honesty eh?

"Being too honest reflects a serious lack of tact"

[Reader warning : Rant coefficient almost unity. For most of the visitors, the quote above should be all that they take away from here. Still the whole story follows for the inquisitive ones.]

One need not be too honest, neither with others, nor with one's own self. This has been pointed out to me time and again by a lot of people around. I am told that being honest just for the sake of telling the truth as it is is really not the name of the game. Or rather than calling it a game, we have a very good word for it, it's called TACT.

One needs to have tact, to be able to put things across in the most slightest of manner, and in a way that they would be noticed and still not be taken offence of. That cannot be achieved by a single minded quest for the truth itself. No sirree, that's not the way to go about it at all! All it requires is a little thinking on your part and a little knowledge about the other party in the vocal or physical transaction.

For a person like me who is definitely *tactless*, let me try to analyse what this attribute really is. I'll start with some questions and build it up. Let's see where we go from here.

1. Is it about being dishonest? Not so. I wouldn't call a tactful person a dishonest one. But at the same time, would I call him/her guileless? No, I wouldn't (Yes. You might, so what, we can always disagree!) The way I see it is, its like using the truth as a tool to reach an end.

2. Is it about being smart? Very much so. If one is smart, one WILL be tactful. If one is not tactful, then one is dumb. At least that is what is on the face. I'm blunt, and I'm called an idiot on multiple occasions, and yes, I'm on first hand familiar terms with the word dumb! I don't know how to treat people well, and I hurt them for no reason at all, but for my philosophy of serving the pie as it is. And it is true to a large extent. One should have enough brains to know what to say when and to whom, even though it is the truth, but one should exercise some restraint sometimes. So, yes, it IS about being smart. Which I do not claim to be.

3. The technical alibi. I had noted back there, that tact is basically empoying truth as a tool to reach an end. Whether the end is good or bad, selfish or selfless, right or wrong for that matter ... all that is very subjective and depends on how one approaches the whole thing, but as long as you are on the right side of humanity (whether or not the right side of morality, which itself has its own unique definition to every individual), you're allowed to use the truth to reach that end. The means of using the truth to your advantage might not be morally correct, but then at the end of the day, you are not dishonest, you are not hurting anyone, so you come clean.

4. (Most interesting) Does one really need to be tactful? Well, I have survived 22 years (minus two) sans tact. I have had rough time, paid my share of dues for not having this "vital" component on today's sociehety and it is now that I am having second thoughts about this which is precisely the reason why I am writing the post.

<Diversion 1 : Why this post?>
So I am sitting in my room, and just randomly thinking when I think about how tactless I am and how blunt I am taken to be. For the past few months, I have been using what I later discovered is called 'mindwriting'. Umm, not exactly mindwriting, but the concept is similar. When I am brewing over with some philosophical dilemma, or just some question troubling me, I start writing, spew out everything I have in mind on the paper, or the keyboard. Most of the time, I start seeing some way out of the dilemma or the problem at hand. The trick is to write everything that comes to your mind and then read it. As one writes, as one's thoughts are formed, one starts analysing the good and the bad, the strong and the weak, and then the situation clears up by itself.

So the reason I am writing this random thought is to clear up my stand on my being tactful, or the lack of it. Let's see how it develops. I have no idea as I write this. True, once I am through, I shall edit it out and remove the really crappy things, hehe, but yes, I want to record this process of clearing up my mind as an overall exercise in mindwriting.

So coming back, does one need to be tactful?

Well, that depends.

That depends on what kind of a person you are. One thing that I can definitely say, if you are not tactful, you'll not be able to befriend everyone coz you'll be too blunt to make everyone happy, but the ones who do become your mates, will have very deep bonds with you. On the other hand, a tactful person would always have a couple of people around to share a joke with, have a laugh and move on in life. They are the happier lot. Or at least, they do seem to be.

Furthermore, if one is a puritan, then any form of manipulation of the truth is a falsehood, an illusion and an attempt to deceive. Whereas for a practical person, truth cannot be manipulated, but it definitely can be shown to someone in a manner he or she wants to see it. That's tact.

It's like advertising and marketing. You need to sell what they'll buy. If you don't have the goods they need, package them in a way that they are tempted to buy. If even the packaging doesn't lure them in, offer a discount!!! There's nothing wrong in that as long as they are buying it out of their own free will, isn't it? For the salesman, its just ringing in the cash registers that is important ... for the consumer, consuming is important. In this age when individual demands are much more important than societal development, this automatically becomes the thumb rule. Sell and buy. I've been told that this is how the human mind works. Everything's a transaction. Is it? Well maybe, but why isn't it so for me? Was I made differently? I can't believe it to be true. I think we are just closing a channel because its either too difficult to follow, too unrewarding in this present world, or maybe yes, too impractical!

But I believe in absolutes. The fact that there are no absolutes per se, doesn't hold here because I believe that every human being knows where to draw the line between moral and immoral, the right and the wrong, the truth and the lie. Everyone of us knows what is the truth and what is not. Sometimes though, we just grow up and teach ourselves new definitions. Maybe we brainwash ourselves away from it. But yes, ab initio, we all know. I don't sell, I don't buy. I don'r market. I don't advertise. I just cut the truth up in little little cubes and ration it out to anyone and everyone who cares to notice.

At the same time, one needs to be careful in distinguishing ideas and opinions from the facts. In being brutally honest about the facts, one cannot be very judgemental about one's own opinions, that would definitely be unjust. Opinions don't count. The facts do. Maybe later than sooner. They hurt, they pinch, they remain static for long after they have been put forth, but they are just that, the facts. Nobody can deny them. That is why an argument based on facts is solid as a fortress. So, being brutally honest has its own takes as well.

All said and done, its basically about your own comfort. The only person you have to be comfortable with after all, is your own self. One may be comfortable by stating the truth on an as-is-where-is basis and then leave it to the sensibilities of the other party. For someone else, their viewpoint of being comfortable might to see to it that everyone around them is happy and they have a role in it. That's a very genuine concern as well. Its basically a difference of ideology. While the first one is more like a traditional reformatory approach, the other one is like a modern indulgent soft approach. Both work. Both are acceptable. It depends on you. It also depends on whom you apply it to. As well as when.

Hmm, now for the results.

Honesty? Yes.
Brutal honesty? Umm, maybe not so brutal.
Tact? Not really my piece of cake.
Self regulation? Definitely.
Solution? Look inwards, introspect and improve. Once through, then look outwards and demand a better world. But first, one needs to prepare oneself to be able to be justified in making that demand.

On the opening quote, 'Being too honest reflects a serious lack of tact', I agree.
Couldn't care less though!

That's it for now.

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