Do You Speak Honestly or Say What They Want to Hear?
By Kristen Daukas on October 02, 2012
I’m pretty much a “what you see is what you get” kind of person. I’m direct. I’m blunt. I’m honest. Over the years I like to think that I have developed some tact, but there are those who don’t see it that way.
I grew up hearing that honesty is the best policy while being told that I had to watch what I say. No wonder I always struggled with voicing my opinion. Did that person really want to hear what I had to say when they asked for my opinion or was I supposed to lie and tell them what they wanted to hear? But I thought honesty was the best policy – isn’t that what my parents told me??
Along the way I started using humor or sarcasm to respond to many things – including the request for opinions. I figured it was a way to say what I wanted to without running as big of a risk of hurting someone’s feelings. Sometimes it worked, other times people thought I was being bitchy. Honestly – it was exhausting and eventually, I started letting go of the notion that I had to hold back. Why couldn’t I say what I thought? I mean – they DID ask for my opinion, right?
The day I turned 40 was such a freeing day to me. I had heard all the horror stories of turning 40 but it was such a liberating day for me. It was the day that I put into action 100% what I had been working towards the past 10 years. I wasn’t holding back anymore. How could I teach my daughters how to speak honestly (yet kindly) if I, myself, wasn’t doing it?
Trust me, there are still plenty of times that I put my foot in my mouth. I may say something in a joking sense but it’s interpreted as an insult which is (almost) never my intention. I had a conversation a few weeks ago with someone in my office who had just returned from a major competition in which he won 2nd place. I jokingly referred to the old Ricky Bobby line of “if you ain’t first, you’re last” but before I had the chance to elaborate that I was joking, we were interrupted and he was left to think that I was one heartless bitch. I didn’t think anything more of it (open mouth, insert foot) until he mentioned later that it really bothered him. I was mortified that my feeble attempt at humor had impacted him that way.
I realize that my directness has cost me a few popularity contests and I’m okay with that. My unwillingness to drip my responses in Southern charm has earned me a seat at the mom reject table and I’m okay with that as well. As long as it doesn’t affect my kids, I honestly don’t care. I don’t have time to play the game and pussyfoot around when it comes to something like who’s bringing snacks for the Valentine’s Day party. Please be direct and tell me what you need. If you do that, I guarantee that you will get it.
I really wish that more people would stop saying things because that’s what they think people want to hear. I’ve reached a point in my life that I really don’t care if you like me or not. It’s taken me a long time to become confident in that statement, but it’s the truth. I would prefer it if you did like me – believe me – once you get to know me, you’ll be glad that you did. But I’m okay if I’m not your cup of tea. I tell the girls constantly – you aren’t going to like everyone and everyone isn’t going to like you. What you DO have to do is be cordial and kind. We all know it’s easier said than done. I mean, it took me 30+ years to get there.
So, if we cross paths and I say something awkward just remember you get what you get. Or in the words of Popeye… I yam what I yam..
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