We’ve all told that little white lie occasionally, perhaps our friend looks “absolutely wonderful” with their new life-sized tattoo of a cat’s head on the back of their neck. Or your mother has a “simply beautiful” singing voice when really it takes every ounce of self control not to cover your ears and run – we are just trying to be polite. Unfortunately, we undeniably live in a world where we can’t just go around saying what we think, we often have some fairly hurtful opinions that our minds do not hesitate to put into the clearest of words. Even the least intelligent of people seem incredibly practised in their use of imagery when talking about the new haircut of “that idiot over there;” it can be anything from a ‘dirty mop’ to a ‘dead cat.’ So, quite reasonably it seems, we are prevented from saying exactly what is on our minds.
This is a lovely idea in principle but there are times when the truth is a far more useful response than a lie that keeps someone in the dark. The saying, “you have to be cruel to be kind” actually does have a hint, albeit faint, of truth in it. You can keep telling your friend that their tattoo looks wonderful, your mother that her singing voice is beautiful, but they won’t be thanking you when the friend grows old with a wrinkly looking cat’s face butting in to social situations and your mother enters a nationally televised singing contest only to be publicly ridiculed. And then there’s that friend who you just don’t like any more. There’s only so many times you can be ‘busy’ before they realise that you’re meeting up with someone less annoying.
You’re not boosting someone’s self esteem by feeding them a lie. Out of tune will always be out of tune. The tattoo of a cat’s head on the back of one’s neck is (hopefully) always going to look ridiculous. It is far better to tell someone the truth so they can do something about it than it is to let them go on believing something that will never fail to make them look stupid, because at some point the truth will catch up with them, and it’s unfair to let someone believe something that is so clearly untrue.
By all means be tactful when breaking the news of the horrific misconception you’ve come to rectify. It’s still unacceptable to tell someone you’d rather have your ears cut off and put in a blender than hear them sing one more note, even if that doesn’t happen to be far from the truth. Apparently people don’t like you to be too blunt in your explanation either, it’s not nice to get straight to the point, although I’m not too good at adhering to that particular nicety. If you ask me, beating around the bush is just a waste of time!
If you were always considerate of a child’s feelings when they did something wrong, or something ridiculous, then they would never develop properly so why is it that we value the initial feelings of an adult over their own development? By constantly lying to someone you never give them a chance to improve. If you tell someone that 10% is an excellent score to get in a test, then they’ll never strive to do any better. If you tell someone that their thoroughly cremated food is delicious then they’ll continue to prepare it as such. If you tell your employee that their report is really good when really every second word is spelled wrong then they will choose to accept the delusion; it’s just a lot simpler. You cannot always do the right thing and always be loved by everybody. Sometimes people are going to get hurt because of the truth but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share it.