Wordsmith prompt #5: What do people say you can’t do?
I wish I had some entertaining, hardcore examples of people flooding my inbox with hate mail, shouting me down, or declaring I have no right to pursue a dream…But the vast majority of those in my life have showered me with a level of support of which I am eternally grateful.
I’m an incredibly open person and I try to be as articulate as possible with my thoughts and emotions. At times this makes me sound like a cheeseball—when I’m telling my friends and comrades how much they mean to me. Other times, I sound like a dick—giving my honest feedback or criticisms.
Most people are aware that there’s a time and a place for speaking your mind. I’m a logic and evidence-based non-believer. But if a friend’s mother just passed away, and she said she wasn’t heartbroken because “she’s in a better place,” I would feel no inclination to retort “Well, there’s no actual proof for that.”
No. God no (pun intended).
However, in most day to day scenarios, I feel like we’ve been conditioned to soften and often times censor our speech in the hopes that we don’t hurt other people. I’m all for not hurting other people, but if a person’s intentions are not to bring harm to another, then openness and honesty (even brutal honesty) are more beneficial than they are damaging.
Put another way, I find constructive honesty to only be as damaging as the receiver allows it to be.
Whether it’s feedback in the workplace, your close friends sitting you down and leveling with you, someone destroying you in an argument…The battle seems to be short term comfort vs. long term health.
Telling your best friend that you despise her boyfriend because he’s a piece of garbage and is dragging your friend into a swamp…That’s uncomfortable as shit in the moment. But wouldn’t it be more uncomfortable two years from now when they’re still dating and you’re only voicing your concerns behind her back? Your intentions are solid. You’re not trying to hurt her; you’re trying to save her!
I’ve been criticized in the past for speaking my mind and possibly hurting others. People can find it blunt, rude, or plain disrespectful. But I get a selfish bonus of not having to hide my motives or values behind a curtain. Plus, I would never say something without letting the other party know that I don’t intend to bring them emotional harm. But if we’re constantly softening the blow, nothing improves. Nothing gets done.
Speaking my mind also allows me to course-correct. I say incorrect shit all the time, but if I didn’t, how would I learn that I’m an even bigger idiot than I originally thought?
Talk. Make mistakes. Learn. Then talk gooder. Allow your ideas and arguments to grow. Polish them each day; otherwise we develop bad habits, become complacent, and stunt our intellectual and emotional growth.
Let’s acquire thick skins instead of placing everything in the world in bubblewrap.
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