Monday, September 24, 2007

Does candor pay?

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?

22 comments:

Altoid said...

Hey HHG

Nice topic. See, mom and sis are both Saggis, of the brutally frank types, which they call honesty. I dont mind that. I dont take it to heart. B

ut with friends, sometimes I do think they could/would be less forthright in their responses and likes/dislikes. Like this one long standing friend of mine, I spilt my guts out to her one day, wasnt exactly looking for sympathy, but at the end of it, her response was "well you asked for all of it!".

True, maybe I was asking for trouble, but maybe she could've worded it better or just empthised for the sake of the moment?

So I do feel that candor isnt exactly required nor expected all the time, some times its good to be tactful and polite .

Personally, I will take any gift- though if its constantly an item or items I dont use/need I will hint that next time, maybe something else. I take receiving gifts as a token of affection, I take a lot of pains in what I give, when I do, hence I reciprocate and expect the same as a receiver.

Ok end of ramble :).

Joy said...

HHG, I think there is no one answer. Being candor and clandestine depends on what situation demands. The same friend, whom we appreciate for being frank can hurt us when (s)he says something blunt! But it is our mind which interprets the statement as frank or blunt.

vishesh said...

ha it must be hurting when some one returns.....

i have a few problems with handling criticism...i don't it at certain times...but certain things i get really hurt..thats what makes me real unpredictable i am not sensitive to things which i need to be while on the other hand take lighter things more seriously....but i think those lighter things are more important to me i guess....

Srijith Unni said...

True, HHG`ma, i like it when people put across the point in a way which does not hurt us. Obviously at times an opinion has to be frank and straight forward, but I always try to put it forth in the most Subtle manner, without the person feeling bad, If I cant do it, then i just dont voice my opinion, and I believe a gift is a gift is a gift. Whether useful/useless, each one of us, puts in a lot of thought, caring and love, in selecting a good gift, and there is a lot of excitement till we give it. Rejecting a person`s effort and care like that is totally not agreeable to me.

Nice post..! Keep Writing.

Have FUn, Take Care and God Bless.!

With Best Regards,
Srijith.

Just Like That said...

Hmmm.. it all depends on the person and the circumstances, in the case of the gift. If it were someone I know well, then I probably wouldn't take offence... but then, it all depends on my mood for the day too..:-)
I take such comments with a pinch of salt, but am quite careful not to utter hurtful things myself

Tys on Ice said...

personaly i like honesty...but i hve realized tht honesty is a double edged sword...honesty in your own deeds and words are great but i hve chosen to be silent abt opinions unless asked. Once asked, then the person who has asked has given you the permission to be honest...i hve unfortunately been cursed with an outspoken attitude, so nowadays people who knows me comes to me only if they want to know the truth...

iam not very much with the few who intentionaly hurt in the name of being frank...because i feel they are using 'being frank' to be plain mean...

btw it is my belief that once something is gifted it ceases to be yours, so wht the other person does with tht gift is entirely upto them - so maybe the hurt is ones need for appreciation, which to an extent is an expectation..this will make the gift a bait...ur thoughts?

shark said...

I agree with you on the gifts part. She needn't have returned it to you. She could have gracefully passed it on .. so that nobody could have got hurt.
People always take interest in buying gifts for us and it's only necessary from our side to gracefully accept it.

Regarding the comments part.. I think some people are just born that way.. curt and hurting, but I have realised over time that those people who say things on your face are much better than those who bitch about you behind your back.

Hip Grandma said...

Hi all,
I do understand that between friends, a candid comment or opinion should not be interpreted in any way except the spirit in which it is conveyed.but we are after all humans and tend to react as per circumstances.Even regarding this friend I had no problem on earlier occasions abt her returning gifts with a valid reason for doing so.May be this time too i could have stayed quiet.The lesson learnt was 'look before you leap,think before you speak.I seem more worried about having hurt her.Time shud make it okay.

starry nights said...

Interesting post, i think sometimes it is good to be open and talk about it, otherwise you are going to be fretting about it inside, this way you said what you had to, this is regarding the present.Actually when a gift is given you should just say thank you and not return it, even if the person is close to you.It is the thought that counts.In other circumstances I think it is better not to say anything that would hurt the person.

kurrodu said...

hhgma,

I concurr that one shld let the other person know as to what you feel about their actions. In doing so, one shld be careful and not sound too judgemental and critical. I feel it always helps to ignore a negative behaviour and in turn respond to it with a positive one. It empowers you in that situation and weakens the other making him/her realise his/her bad behaviour. Usually, ppl don't change their behaviour even if you point it out. Their ego tends to justify it.

Mahadevan said...

Not to hurt others' feelings, should always weigh uppermost. Keeping this in mind, one can choose to be candour. Using positive terms, always ensure that the other person is not hurt.

'Your second child is really smart'. This is a frank and positive statement. Non-reference to the first child, doesn't hurt anybody.

WhatsInAName said...

well... actually I do mind it too. Friends are being honest I know but then honesty hurts at times. There are ways to tell. You can tell the same thing in many ways... thats what I feel.

Usha said...

One sanskrit subhashita says:
speak the truth; speak what is pleasant; do not speak the truth if it is unpleasant.
It is totally unnecessary to hurt someone in the name of truth. I have known some people who brag how brutally honest they are - but what for? why is that brutality needed when it can't change the situation - for instance the comment on one's looks?
Next time you buy a gift for Rekha, you should perhaps ask her what she would like. Or better still just buy her flowers!

Anonymous said...

Hi Grandma! I can very well understand ur situation. Though i dont happen to be aishwarya rai, i am not bad looking either, tho endowed iwth dusky creamy complexion whereas my husband and his entire clan is very fair, tall with aryan features. I am a constant butt of their jokes for my dark complexion, in fact my youngest SIL tells me in front of my husband (who happens to be very handsome).."ivan yen ippidi oru assingamaana orru ponne kalyanam panninano! Maybe avanoda alagu iva munnadi innum jolikkum athunaaleya irrukkum!" (that is tamil and i dont think i need to translate that for you).. I was so hurt and till date it brings tears to my eyes! Why did she make such a comment? To hurt me purposely i suppose... Out of jealosy and spite?? I think so!!!

Hip Grandma said...

lalitha:I am glad to have your support.I was fretting from within.

kurrodu:Oh yes I do take care to frame my words carefully.But sometimes one does feel in control when words are kept as thoughts.

mahadevan:I too feel the same.As organisms with a sixth sense we humans need to take the other person's feelings into consideration.unfortunately this is not done.

whatsinaname:People seem to get a sadistic pleasure in deliberately hurting others.it is these that upset me.I can forgive those who do it unintentionally.

usha:People don't even try to appreciate qualities like goodness of heart,generosity and compassion that people possess.looks are all they see.

anon:even people who not blessed with chiselled features and a flawless skin have other features that stand out.One needs to train one's eyes to 'see' it.Don't worry about the mean ones.I am sure there are many who love you for what you are.

artnavy said...

one shld always be sensitive ( if one were at the receiving end)

one can always avoid saying anything if the truth is unpleasant

but within very close family i guess we ignore such things

Prats said...

This small line that divides honesty and hurt, can be difficult to trace. Each one has a benchmark for accepting the truth...and thats where it starts the journey of hurt. Maybe next time, you should just stop giving them gifts :)

hillgrandmom said...

I love the Sanskrit verse Usha has quoted! but also agree with tysonice in that only when asked for, should one be frank. Then again if we just put ourselves in the place of the person on the receiving end we might just talk differently?

Sumana said...

Hello HHG,
I love your blogs. It is nice to be outspoken and frank, but i think one should keep in mind not to hurt the other person. That is just my view.
Sumana

Hip Grandma said...

artnavy:there is this concept of 'ardhsatya' where even a bitter truth can be camoflaged and sugar coated.Mahadevan gave anice example where truth can be told without hurting anyone.wonder if saying that 'you look better than your sister' is better than 'your sister looks worse than you?

prats:Usha's suggestion that I shud perhaps give her flowers is worth considering.My friend being what she is,may find maintaining gifts a tedious job.She keeps a sparkling house and would hate it if gifts are handled carelessly.

hillg'mom:In this instance it was a very dear friend that was involved and more than being upset about her returning gifts,i was feeling bad for having come out with my say in the matter.I think I shud have used more discretion in handling the situation.If intentions are good one shud perhaps take these things in one's stride.I am glad to say that all this is past and my friend remains to be what she always was.

sumana:Welcome here and you are right.Being outspoken is good but if it is not going to help anyone one may as well keep quiet.

Survivor said...

Just chanced upon your blog.

I don't mind being hypocritical about something as long as it helps sugarcoat my comments. Among close friends, if asked for an opinion, we can afford to be frank , but even then there is no need to be mean.
I think no one likes to be talked about their physique unless it is something complementary. That is human nature and we have to accept it. And everyone is beautiful in their own way. Same thing when it comes to skills. Everyone has a different skill set .Wish people had the maturity to understand that and accept others for what they are.

If your friend took the liberty of returning your gifts when it didn't suit her taste, as a close friend, you took the liberty of telling her what you thought about it. It is frankness at both the ends and so, you needn't worry about it.Since it is a close friend , by now, I am sure both of you would have accepted the other person with all the imperfections and this shouldn't matter at all.

Cheers...

Archana Bahuguna said...

My few cents: I think the most important thing is to understand the intention of the other person. If we know (and we mostly do) that the intention is not to hurt, we must try to be objective.