“I’m far too outspoken; it’s one of my worst spots,” are the famous lines uttered by the character-Maria [Julie Andrews], to Captain Von Trappe [Christopher Plummer], in the classic movie-Sound Of Music, after he apologizes for the harsh way he asked her to leave his house, and return to the convent, for taking his kids on hair-raising adventures without his consent. In the course of living, one comes across many Marias, who speak their minds without fear or thought of the effect of their bluntness, on the recipients. These brutally outspoken people, wield their opinions and ideas without reservation, and at the slightest prompt. One mother, whose baby was not adding weight, despite everything she was feeding him, kept hearing from a tactless neighbor, whose child was on the plump side, how healthy and chubby her own son was, and was her neighbor not feeding her skinny baby properly, or what?
Outspokenness is a positive trait that could go awry, if negatively channeled. When you say cruel things to another person in the guise of frankness, that person will resent you for it. You can say the right thing in a wrong way and spark off strong undercurrents of resentment.
For the Christians, the Bible, which is their manual for living, talks about, ‘speaking the truth in love.‘ In essence, this could be interpreted to mean, not just saying the truth about something, someone, or a situation, for instance, but saying it in a way that shows that you have the recipients best interest at heart; it is saying the truth, but not in a way that makes it come out like a weapon to be used in bludgeoning the other person with. I am sure that other religions have something positive to say about positive human relations.
You could, in actuality be paying the other person a compliment, but it comes out all wrong and the person takes offense. For instance, a well known Nigerian actress, reportedly went to a class of aspiring actors/actresses, on the Dean’s invitation, to share how she got to the top in her career. The students were accorded the privilege of asking her career related questions, but one of them, in trying to show some sort of camaraderie with the A-list act, commented that the said actress had lost a great deal of weight, and wondered what she could be doing to look that slim. The question came out all wrong, and sounded like she was prying. True, her observation was right-the actress had lost a great deal of weight-and she meant it as a compliment on the actresses’ trim looks, but she said it in a wrong way. Judging by the look on the actresses’ face, it was easy to tell that she was displeased by the brash/familiar way the question came out, and this earned the student a mild reproof from the Dean of studies, who reiterated that personal questions were a no, no.
The lessons one can infer from these are that, you must earn the right to be candid with someone, and you must not use that right as a weapon of offense. In your bid to be blunt and outspoken, you should ask yourself what your motives are. In saying what you want to say, are you doing it to make your recipient a better person for having listened to you, or, are you simply trying to show off, as the superior’/ more knowledgeable one? When your motive is altruistic, the other party will pick up on it intuitively, and not feel resentful, or downright angry. So, next time you decide to deal the bluntness card, make sure that it is not accompanied by cruelty, for then, you would have succeeded in being candidly cruel.