Who hasn't suffered through a similar situation? You say something awkward and push your foot even further into your mouth when you try to backpedal--but wind up saying something even worse. Honesty is the best policy, they say. Sure, but I think tact and diplomacy are important, too.. I mean, why imply or tell a man that he looks like a wart on a toad's back if it doing so would serve no good purpose? Why tell a woman that she's too melodramatic when probably all that she's doing is trying to sharing her frustrations?
Sometimes, though, some of us go overboard on this tact thing, especially when it comes to the people we care about. Maybe to avoid offending someone or hurting someone's feelings, we sugar-coat our words or subject them to twists and turns until they're so convoluted that what comes out bears only the slightest resemblance to our original thoughts. We rationalize, saying to ourselves that what we're doing is ultimately for their benefit: to spare them the slightest bit of embarrassment or self-consciousness. Or maybe some of us do it to avoid bodily harm ourselves. (Honey, do these jeans make me look fat?) Haha!
Say what you mean and mean what you say. But sometimes we mean what we don't say or do, which is pathetic because the message doesn't reach the party for which it was intended. We bite back the words that we originally meant to utter.
Yes, it can be especially frustrating if we find ourselves guarding what we say--not out of fear of offending the other person--but to protect ourselves from hurt. We're afraid that by being honest about what we think or feel, we are left vulnerable to whatever it is that that other person will say or do in reaction to what we say. We feel defenseless, naked even. And so we keep the conversation abnormally light-hearted; we hedge, hem and haw, go around in verbal circles. The mentality is that "I won't give you the chance to hurt me because of what you'll learn about me. Never mind that I'm not sure you will. Better to be safe than sorry."
Pride? Or perhaps hubris?
So we decide to leave important things unsaid. Feelings are chained inside and left unexpressed. Instead, we settle for near-meaningless chitchat, indulge in niceties, refuse to free the thoughts that are clamoring to be spoken. Because of this, misunderstandings arise, miscommunication occurs, relationships come to a standstill, emotional intimacy isn't given the chance to blossom--all because we decided to hold our tongues, because we decided to hold back. And something precious dies even before it's born.
Woman In Chains
By Tears for Fears