I just haven’t mastered the art of beating around the bush. There’s something so freeing about being able to speak one’s mind. Makes me wonder why more people don’t do it!
Oh sure, there’s feelings and emotions and ego and propriety, bla, bla, bla… but what is all that really in the world of freedom of speech? It’s amazing to me how we have such a valuable freedom and yet so few of us (myself generally excluded) actually use it. So, being somewhat of a master of this art of free speech (contrary to my previous claim that I was master of naught), I think it’s only my duty to give some pointers.
First, honesty must go both ways. If you can dish it out, you have to be able to take it. If you only tell people what’s on your mind, but get all salty when they tell you your breath stinks, you’re not ready for this game. Go hang out with some jazz musicians for a while…you’ll either develop thick skin, or be in desperate need of therapy.
Second, speaking the truth in love is essential. While I enjoy speaking truthfully, it’s important that the underlying reason for truth is to better the world, and this means the person to whom you are speaking truth. If your concern is not for their well-being (i.e., them having foul breath will likely affect other relationships, so I’m doing them a favor by pointing it out and offering a solution), then you’re just being mean, and that falls into another category.
Third, which goes along with that second point, it’s important that truth be shed into areas where truth will help. If you tell someone they are ugly, that’s generally either a perception matter, or one that cannot be resolved. In this case, the connection with the second point is essential. If they can’t change it, there’s no point making them feel bad about it.
Fourth, have a solution. Nothing worse than someone saying something along the lines of, “You really need to work on that”, and not offering any suggestions as to how to work on said issue. If they have bad breath, offer them a mint or a dollar to buy a mint, or whatever. Even suggest where they might acquire such resources. Remember, it’s about making the world a better place for all.
Fifth, know what you’re talking about. If you don’t know the difference between the smell of roses and the smell of a barnyard, you’re probably not the best person to give advice or feedback on breath. And if you’re giving an opinion, make sure it’s stated as such. Give them the freedom to take it or leave it, and if they leave it, don’t be offended (see rule #1).
Sixth, know when to walk away. Sometimes they’re going to get upset. And you’ll have to deal with that. And sometimes people won’t listen, so don’t worry about it. If you keep talking about it, it’s going to get worse.
Seventh, pick your battles. If the dude with the stanky breath is big, ugly (in your perception, of course) and mean, you might want to just avoid the path of his exhalations.
Eight. Commit. Once you say it, be confident that you made a good decision. Don’t apologize for being honest. Don’t beat yourself up about being honest. This world needs more honesty, and you are simply serving your world with your honesty.
Nine, don’t be afraid to admit you were wrong. I know, I know, it’s a contradiction to the previous rule, but hear me out. If you’re confident that what you said was truth, stick to it. However, if you find out that the nasty breath was really coming from the woman sitting next to your friend, then admit when you were wrong. If you make a mistake, big deal! People make mistakes. Admit, apologize, and then get over it.
My hope is that this will serve in making the world a much more honest place to be.