We are all wanderers on this earth. Our hearts are full of wonder, and our souls are deep with dreams.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Honestly? You're Just Being Rude.


I almost scrolled past this picture on my Facebook newsfeed, but I stopped, scrolled back up and commented: "Can be both.  No need to be rude."  It's funny how small things will set off a whole train of thinking in my head and this was one such trigger.  There does seem to be a fine line between saying something honestly and saying something rudely.  My friend commented back and said that he never intends to be rude, but I don't think intention is the key.  Although by definition to be rude implies that one meant to be impolite or that one doesn't care that they were, it can also be the result of one's own ignorance.  We've all made those gaffs, where we say something offensive, not meaning to cause offense, but did so because we didn't know the other person's soft spots.  I'm writing this keeping in mind that etiquette expert Miss Manners, Judith Martin, once said that it is the epitome of rudeness to correct another's manners.

Almost any unsolicited opinion will be considered rude, so if you haven't been invited to comment on something, don't.  I think posting something on your blog or on a social network is inviting commentary, so it irks me when opinions are given and the original poster says, "I didn't ask for your opinion."  Um.  Yes, you did.  See that "Comment" link under your post?  Still, that shouldn't give folks carte blanche to be rude, it just means we did open the floor for comments.  I worked with someone who assumed anything that was said within her earshot was fair game.  While her comments weren't necessarily offensive, the way she would interject herself into conversations that weren't directed to her was, in fact, rude. 

However, if we are in a position, as tarot readers are, to deliver honest feedback we must be aware of this line between honesty and rudeness and walk it carefully. Relationship readings can be minefields that need both honesty and compassion to navigate.  So you're reading for someone who has a thing for a guy who has dissed her repeatedly and who has flat out told her he isn't interested.  They had a thing a while back and he hasn't communicated in months.  She wants a reading on when they will get back together.  Depending on what the cards say, and I've been shocked sometimes so I never assume anymore, but let's say the cards are telling her to let go, move on, it's a done deal, and you've got to tell her this without insulting her.  You could say, "You're obsessed.  Stop it."  Or, "Get a clue!"  Or you could say, "I honestly don't see, according to these cards, any movement in your direction from him.  Is there anything he has said or done recently to give you the impression he is intending to reconcile with you?"  She says, "No, but I just know in my heart that he will."  So then I might say, "Sometimes when we want something or someone really bad, we can convince ourselves it is true.  And sometimes that works and we get what we want eventually.  But meanwhile, until it happens, we need to live our lives in the reality of today and today he isn't contacting you, so do you think you can accept that?"  OK, you get the idea.  Rudeness shuts down two-way interaction and communication.  Honesty without rudeness opens that channel.  Certainly we all have our own communication styles and some of us are more direct than others.  I envy those who are able to be honest, direct, and kind.  Me? I'm wordy.

Some agree with Shakespeare that there are times we need to be "cruel to be kind" and that to help someone we must deliver the harsh truth knowing it will sting.  It depends on the relationship.  This adage from Shakespeare is from Hamlet and it involves a relationship between a son and his mother.  It isn't just a random fly by directed towards a stranger or mere acquaintance.  In fact, in its original context, Hamlet is burdened by the reality that he must hurt his mother in order to effect the change that must be.  Most rudeness doesn't care that much.  Therefore, rudeness is not "tough love."  It's not love at all. 

Does honesty without rudeness take more effort?  It sure does. Rudeness is lazy.  It's also a sign that someone's trying to come off as "tough" or callous.  That's fine on occasion, I suppose.  I've been known to deliver a rude comeback when the situation or my mood seemed to call for it.  Not that rudeness is really ever called for, but yeah, it happens.  It means I'm not interested in dialogue, but in slinging verbal shit at that moment.  My unintentional rude moments, however, were probably a result of not taking the time to consider how my words will be received or whether they will be productive to discourse.  A genuine apology and an explanation which takes the time to empathize with the other person usually closes that gap.  Kindness is stronger than rudeness and some of us should exercise our kindness muscles more. 


  1. Nothing irks me more than rudeness.

  2. Dear Ginny,

    Always enjoy your thoughtful reflections in this blog and thank you for your invitation to share...

    I completely resonate with your example where there is a choice between "rude" (judgmental) reactions and "honest" (compassionate) responses.

    Sharing with another ideally entails two components; 1) compassionate, loving thoughts and feelings, and 2) a permission to share your perspective with the other. Otherwise we may sink into a downward spiral of negativity, abuse and violence.

    We have choices, and they are not necessarily easy. Most times it may seem easier to whip out a quick (defensive) spike of honesty. It may get a load off your shoulders, but there is usually a payback, more pain, more suffering, down the road. Free and conscious choice is the key to change.

    Keep up the great work....

    In Spirit,

  3. I'm in a 12 Step program and sponsor other women who are trying to stay clean and sober. About a year ago one of them said having me for a sponsor was like having a burn nurse who scraped away the dead skin in order for her to live. That painful image was burned into my brain, and now I am more careful in choosing my words and the tone I use to say them. A friend was speaking the other day and said, "We judge ourselves by our intentions but others by their actions." My "intentions" never excuse my actions, regardless of how I rationalize them.
    Love your blog. :)

  4. What insightful comments! I think it's all too easy and tempting to throw out a none too helpful comment under the guise of "honesty." But Katrina nailed it -- that's judgmental. And Ouch! Thesycamoretree, it's interesting that she was actually being honest and kind to you. She acknowledged that you were hurting her to help her, so she recognized your good intentions. And how lovely that you took a look at your own way of communicating as a result. One of the most abusive phrases ever is "I'm doing this for your own good."

  5. Great post Ginny. I think we, as Tarot readers, need to be very mindful of being compassionate and understanding. It is too easy to say, "I tell it like it is!" and forget that you're dealing with someone with feelings and who is human just like all of us are. Instead, it's a fine balance between being honest and being compassionate.

    I love how you have repositioned your response to the hypothetical client who's struggling to let go. I'll be coming back to this one!

  6. I think Tarot readers will often have a hard time with walking this line. Sometimes we are tempted to lean to the side of dishonesty by omission because we don't want to deliver a harsh truth or don't really know how to deliver it, or think no matter how we do it, it's going to hurt. Other times we get frustrated with a particular client's repetitive queries about the same subject or multiple clients present us with similar scenarios and we're so tired of dealing with it we're tempted to just give it to them raw and unvarnished and run the risk of rudeness. And then, and I didn't mention this in the post, but as we interact with one another in our community and review or comment on one another's products and projects, we can also run the risk of being rude to one another thinking we're just telling it like it is, giving our "honest opinion." Communication is an art. We can use it crudely or with care.

  7. Rudeness and bullies have actually been at the fore-front of my mind lately. I have been reflecting and asking questions, you have terrific insight on rudeness. I actually thought of myself, I am currently writing and I feel like I have the right words when I write, but my delivery 9 times out of ten when speaking to someone is way off. I believe that I always have the truest of intentions, but that isn't what is received, and I get the very horrid reactions.

    All of this made me wonder if reading, books, as a training for memory in subjects, could a book on polite wording and interjection help to train one to "learn" to be polite and say the best that can be said for each situation, furthermore; would you study and write this book? LOL whew! But seriously. What are your thoughts on, my belief that my intentions are good, but I am not received in that manner?

  8. There are communication books... but I know what you mean. It's hard to learn how to speak differently than we already know. But it really is amazing what small changes can do to the receptivity of your words.

  9. Excellent post, Ginny! People sometimes criticize those who "pussy foot around" or are afraid to be honest -- but going to the other extreme is equally unhelpful. I truly believe it is possible (and desirable) to be considerate and tactful while still being honest.

  10. Great post and advice on how to gently urge someone to let go of a lost love.


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