Sometimes I wonder if it is okay to let people know that one is hurt or would it be better to let it be. What if the act was unintentional but hurting all the same? Take the case of my good friend Rekha for instance. She seems to have a problem accepting gifts that are of not much use to her. On two earlier occasions she returned gifts given by me saying that it would be better if I gave it to someone who could put it to good use. But when she repeated it a third time I had to tell her as politely as possible that it hurt me to take back gifts carefully chosen for her and suggested that she could pass it on to someone else of her choice. I gently pointed out that she had done so on earlier occasions though I could understand her predicament, it hurt all the same. Her response set me thinking. She felt that it was not fair that she should pass off my gift to someone of her choice and that it was only because I was close to her that she could feel free to return it. After all hadn’t she gladly accepted things that were useful to her? I was left wondering whether it was necessary for me to have brought up the topic at all. If intentions were good perhaps the best thing would be to swallow a little hurt.
As for myself, I prefer a little less candor. I’ve had a friend who pointed out that I was the worst looking in my family and toned down the statement y saying that she hoped that I did not mind her saying it. I pointed out that she could well have said that my sister and my mother, who were the targets of comparison, were better looking than me. After all isn’t a glass that is half empty also one that is half full? When my children were young and my weight was some 20 kgs less than what it is now, they looked chubby and cute while I appeared to have been starved to death with sunken cheeks and popping eyes. People would point out that they didn’t look like my children at all and I did not seem to mind. I’d smile as if I was the one who selected the right genes for them. I suppose one’s reaction changes according to circumstances.
There is no rule that applies to all people at all time and a person’s reaction also varies depending on his/her mood. There is truth in the saying that one is the master of the unspoken word and once spoken we become responsible for the reaction it provokes. Discretion in the expression of an opinion has never been my strength but I do try to word my criticism carefully so that if it must hurt, let it be at a minimal level. I wonder if I am right or are those who are known to be free with their choice of expression at the risk of upsetting their audience?