Honesty & Communication

Two things that people have a hard time combining.

There is a definite difference between honesty and meanness, and a person should be aware when they are both delivering and receiving something involving the two. It's all in the intentions. Coming from a utilitarian perspective, I believe strongly in the consequence of an action, rather than the action itself. (Obviously I consider my actions in a moral way like most people do, I'm just trying to state that I am outcome oriented.) Now, when we begin to look into an honest remark and a mean one we can see where the difference lies. In this scenario I am considering honesty not necessarily as a good or bad comment, but rather an issue that may arise, and has a need to be addressed. An honest comment is usually made in order to bring an awareness or observation to the recipient so that a change can be made - there is something that the person intends to create an outcome for. A mean comment doesn't consider the outcome. It considers the immediate diction at hand and doesn't allow for a suggestion. To them, it's a fact.

I'm not sure what it is about us ("us" being the human race in general) and not wanting to hurt feelings any more, but increasingly we are a weaker society. We avoid confrontation. We hide behind our technology. We embrace being alone. We need to get honest.

This is all arising from a conversation I overheard today, so I'll set the mood. I'm at the pool working (as usual) and my mother also happened to be at the pool, swimming laps. After she is done swimming, she comes up to me, telling me what a parent of a swimmer on my team had been saying for the past hour; that he is unhappy with the coaches (one of which is me) for countless reasons, his daughter isn't getting enough help he says. It's a vital time in the season for help, he says. These things only begin to upset me. He says these things to the guards, he suggests things to them that he thinks would benefit his daughter. They have no say in these matters. He asks one of the guards* to help his daughter with something, since she hasn't been receiving enough help with it. He later proceeds to ask said guard why he was not the coach this year, right in front of me. His daughter is 8. It is their first year on the swim team. I have been coaching her age group. I've been giving her private lessons for her technique.

And this is how you treat me.

It's not the fact that he said all of these things. No, that doesn't bother me. It bothers me that he goes behind my back, gossips to my employees (I'm the Assistant Manager, pal), and gossips to other parents about his issues.

What are they going to fix for you? Nothing. They are just going to embrace your negativity and spread it like wildfire. Eventually, I'm going to have all the pool patrons outside of my house with pitchforks and torches.
Well, not really.
But do you understand what I'm saying now?

Your honesty is going to the wrong person, and is becoming something negative because of it. I would gladly listen to you voice your concern; what parent doesn't want the best for their child? I am not going to be offended. And if I am, I'll get over it eventually. I know what you want differently now and I can try to adjust. These types of things happen daily, whether we are the ones refusing to confront another - or the ones witnessing and participating in unproductive banter. Obviously there are somethings that you just can't tell a person. Of course don't go and tell everyone exactly how you feel about them. And inevitably, some people will be offended, and might refuse to understand your honesty and interpret it as negativity. But we live in a world of people, so whats the point of all of these people if we're not going to interact with them?
I'm thinking of a time -in between my sophomore and junior years of High School- where I had a serious issue with one of my best friends. She did something that I thought was so insulting that I straight up told her how awful she was for doing it, and how I couldn't believe in her actions. At this point in time it was the cherry on top of her carelessly-rude-actions sundae. She told me that we would never talk again.

She got over it.
She's my best friend today.

Part of me thought that she would understand where I was coming from and apologize, which she did. The other part of me thought we would actually never talk again. And I think I would have been fine with that. Now, you're probably thinking "You awful horrible man!"but consider this; we became friends again because she changed. If she hadn't had changed I would not have been able to deal with her antics, and consequentially probably would not want to be friends with her.
At this point I'm re-reading this last paragraph and thinking how much of a jerk I sound like, but it really got her thinking about where she was mentally, and how she had been treating people. This anecdote is rather melodramatic, but I'm sure we've all had a wake-up call regarding ourselves as an individual.

So be honest. Communicate more. In a friendly matter of course. If you feel like talking to someone... DO IT! Even if you don't know what to talk about, or if you think you might be bothering them, just do it anyways.

That's all folks.
Bookish.Spazz said...

Very well put.

A lot of times people don't appreciate my brand of honesty, but I don't see a point in complaining about something that bothers me without any results.

I hate it when people spread negativity like that. It's toxic. And it's cowardly. People need to learn that it doesn't solve problems, it just exacerbates them.

Anyway, I just really, really, really like this post. :)

Maggie Shirley said...

I like you a lot. You are just fantastic.

Natalie said...

I can't see why any parent would be complaining about you in the first place (I mean, you can teach my children how to swim any day... that sounded very strange but trust me that I mean well) so that's the first problem. Hopefully McKay (hopefully I didn't spell that wrong) can protect you from the pool patrons and their weapons.

Anastasia said...

Bravo. This is encouraging me to communicate directly with someone that unfriended me and has been avoiding me. I think that being honest and upfront pays off in the long run.

Natalie said...

PS. I posted pictures of the spiffy Italian dressers. Some of them, at least. My photos are pretty bad though.

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