Question

Is it just me? Lately, it seems as though I can’t go a day without stepping into an emotional land mine of hurt feelings and unintended consequences. Have we, as a society, become so selfish that everything we read or hear or see has a direct impact personally? I miss the days where honesty and calling things the way you see them was common sense, not a trait that needs to be watered down to be easily digestible.

Signed –

Tiptoeing Through Life

 

Answer

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Dear Tiptoeing –

Well, you aren’t the only one that’s noticed that. I’ll be honest – I’ve taken quite some time to formulate a response because, well, it’s really a sensitive subject these days, as you point out. Here’s where I’ve landed.

Honesty is defined as being truthful, sincere, candid, frank, direct, open, forthright, straightforward, genuine, blunt, plain-spoken. Too often, people tend to just assume that being honest means you have to be blunt to get the point across. Blunt doesn’t usually get a good response, in my experience.

Beyond that, it seems to me that gender and different generations have a lot to do with the emotional land mines and unintended circumstances. For example, I used to work with a lot of 20-somethings. As a whole, they were quite selfish and maintained a sense of entitlement that was not earned or deserved (or appropriate, in my book). They also seemed to overact when critiques about their work were given, no matter how it was presented.

Contrast that with my own age group where I find people aren’t as touchy, shall we say, about any given topic, situation, critique or comment. People in their mid-50s and older seem to have a thicker skin and don’t take every little thing quite so personally.

Consider, too, the difference in how men and women respond to the same situations. Women are far more likely to get their feelers hurt (as a friend says) than men, no matter what the age group. Yet, women who have had a hardier work life (i.e., ranching, medicine, raising large families, etc.) seem to be much more self-confident, have higher self-esteem and tend not to take offense at much of anything. I’ve worked office jobs all my adult life and a large number of the women – in both age groups, mind you –fit your description. In my estimation, these women seemed to have lower self-esteem and  self-confidence, which lead to “over reactions.”

The bottom line is this: it isn’t going to change. Parenting styles, general upbringing, personal insecurities – all play a major role in how each of us respond to daily interactions. Truth is, everyone should try to see life through the eyes of our family members, co-workers, friends, neighbors, even the person at the drive-thru. We have no idea what’s really going on with most of them or what their personal demons may look like.

I’ve heard it said that the faults we find in others are the ones we dislike most in ourselves. Obviously, I don’t know you, but maybe it’s worth considering.

Based on its definition, there are a lot of ways to convey honesty with others. Maybe next time you find yourself in a situation where a particular response or comment you want to make could potentially produce an unintended consequence or overly emotional response, you can try putting yourself in their shoes. Better yet, say something uplifting and positive instead or in addition to your critique. Not only can it help the person you’re talking with, but it might help you, too.

Wishing you a life less dramatic –

 

Lisa

 

Ms. Shrefler’s opinions do not reflect the opinions of this publication, or any organizations or agencies referenced within her comments.

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