Usually, the word honest centers around white lies and blatant black lies, but this ‘honest’ subject focuses on being courageously honest in owning opinions and dialoguing without fear. When I shared with a niece the subject of Courage to be Honest for the upcoming blog, I was impressed with her quick response: “I’m opinionated and have no problem letting my co-workers know what I believe about certain matters but if I’m certain that my viewpoint is likely to alienate someone, I keep quiet.” Her attitude is commendable and maintains harmony. However, there are other situations when honest opinions tactfully shared contribute to clearing the air, preventing problems and insuring harmony down the road. Consider a couple of examples.
“Too frequent visits from my husband’s exuberant mother are robbing us, who are both employed full time, of private time with our baby. How can we be honest with her without causing a rift in the family?”
“I resent my wife’s close family claiming every holiday when we are wanting to form our own traditions.”
“My extended family members drop in at any time which distresses my husband, who is a new family member and a very private person. We need direction in finding a kind way to handle this dilemma.”
“At family gatherings, as soon as Aunt Helen arrives, she heads directly for three-year-old Tommy and without apology or permission removes him even from another’s lap and ushers him to another room or outdoors. The rest of us just look at each other in disbelief since we all want to bond with the little guy.”
“At our senior apartment dwelling, some residents call all the shots and shy people like me never get our choice of table games or outings. How can that be remedied?”
“As employed singles living in apartments in a busy suburb with scant free time as well as limited discretionary finances, we are distressed about new posted regulations which increase our living expenses that several of us want to challenge, but no one is willing to be the spokesperson.”
Many situations get out of hand because honest observations and opinions demanding courage are unspoken and delayed for fear of upsetting the apple cart or coming across as controlling. Peaceful solutions are possible. Naturally, confronting situations in their infancy is wise and less complicated.
1. Which temperament preference is likely to say ‘yes’ when they really mean ‘no’? The Heart-logic segment who represent 60% of females and 40% of males, guarantee harmony by saying ‘yes’, when they mean ‘no’, in order to please the listeners, even if it falls short of their own desires. Soft-hearted Feelers try to avoid situations that will likely create negative dialogue, fearing that stating their honest opinions will come across as being selfish or uncaring.
2. Which temperament preference says ‘no’ without a second thought? Head-logic Thinkers who are represented by 60% of males and 40% of females, have little difficulty disagreeing or saying ‘no’. “I’ll settle the problem”, Thinkers volunteer, to which Feelers say, “No, no, you’ll hurt someone’s feelings.” Courage to be honest is not as catastrophic to Thinkers since by design, they do not worry about whether others agree with what they say or do, simply because they are equipped emotionally to give themselves approval. Experience teaches them the wisdom of softening stark opinions when dealing with feelers.
First step: Acknowledging the situation is 50% of solution. The other 50% hinges on understanding and respecting the temperaments of the persons involved, and encouraging everyone to speak.
Too-frequent visits: “Mom, we love having you visit, but we like to share going to bed routine with just us. There will be times when you can help us with him at bedtime, but not every night.”
Regarding Helen: Confiding in your sister, “I like aunt Helen, but I dislike her monopolizing Tommy. You may not be aware that when she arrives, she swoops Tommy from whoever has him, no matter what the involvement, and takes him away. Several of us are unhappy about this”, might demand courageous honesty on your part, but would be acknowledging the problem, a step in the right direction.
Because softhearted people—men and women--wishing to avoid any inkling of threatened harmony, will need assistance in arriving at a harmonious solution. It would help for someone whom Helen respects to chat with her about how others are being affected by her avid attention to Tommy. If Helen is a Head Logic Thinker, she may be unaware of her silent control. Another option would be varying times when guests are to arrive allowing special visiting times for less-aggressive family members. Or those who do not have a fighting chance to play with Tommy could schedule another visit when she is not included.
Group courage: Plan a brain-storming meeting to compose the concerned group’s complaints and suggestions. Schedule an appointment with the manager when two or three renters, instilled with group courage can honestly address the problem. Depending on the outcome, outside counsel may be needed.
Shy Seniors: Gather other shy seniors and list your problem and preferences. Then, together deliver it to the person in charge, requesting outings. Without advertisement, four of you find a table and organize a board game of your choice. Getting forgiveness is often easier than getting permission.
If you are conflicted about a tender subject, bow out politely, “I’m not comfortable discussing this subject at this time, but would like to hear about your new job.”
Really, it’s quite fun to observe people’s expressions when you calmly say, “I am not comfortable with that,” or “I’m interested in discussing that subject but at a later time”, or “I agree with you on several points but need time to think over everything you’re proposing”, or “I am ready to go”, rather than “We’re going to be late; you need to hurry”, which are two parenting-statements back-to-back that will cause the listener to feel like they’re 10 years old and a tad rebellious.
Even though honest, non-offensive ‘I’ statements are relatively easy to deliver, they do require careful thought and practice. Several clients have shared that they record possible responses to have them on the tip of their tongue when the need arises such as, “I’d like to finish reading this story, then I’ll bring Tommy to you.” Help your family members gain expertise by saying, “I’ll wait for an ‘I’ statement to replace the offensive ‘you’ directive. That’s the way Jim and I helped each other hone the skill. Speaking honestly engenders transparency which ultimately protects precious friendships of family and friends.
A good beginning is understanding and appreciating your God-designed preferences which define your unique personality and likewise respecting and appreciating those with innate opposite temperaments. Valuing everyone is a worthy personal goal.
Your responses are always valued.
The one who is patient calms a quarrel. Prov. 15.18. Live in harmony with one another. Rom 12:16. A gentle answer turns away wrath; The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life… Prov. 15:1,4 Good understanding wins favor. Prov. 13:15.
Lord, help us to be kindly honest as we consider differences. Thank you for valuing us, and help us to value others in the same way.