Culture

Is it true, necessary, and kind?

Today I had two separate conversations with the same individual that left me tired, more tired, and worn out. I wanted to let the person know that the conversation could have waited or could have occured via email. Personally, I prefer texting. But, I did not advise this individual of such as they had this look in their eyes. Specifically, their eyes told me that this person was hungry to share all this information right there and then. But, my inside voice was screaming and rattling off a few items from my rather extensive to-do list. Sure, I can work on those items at midnight. But sleep or maybe even television would be nice.

As my inside voice was shrieking (it progressed from screaming) I thought of those three questions one may be advised to consider before speaking. First, is it necessary? Second, is it true? Third, is it kind? Now, not all communication needs to address all three questions. Sometimes, work communication can’t dwell on the niceties but must instead be matter of fact. Even with that said, I try to be nice. I’ll do the feedback sandwich wherein you start off with a nice bit, followed by the main point of critical feedback, and end with another nice point. And, I always try to show gratitude. I’m not perfect, however. But I try.

In terms of all communications, truth appears to be somewhat subjective these days. And, many advocate for little white lies in order to be kind. Perplexing. My motto: aim for as close to the truth as possible. It is very difficult to keep track of lies. Takes up too much mental bandwidth. Now, when my young son asked me whether we were lost when taking Japanese bullet train out of Kyoto, I told him we were just fine. Inside, I was petrified as we were absolutely lost. But no good would have come from scaring my little son. But, more often than not, transparency is your friend.

Now, last but not least. Perhaps, most importantly. At least for my state of mind. Is what you are about to say necessary? We all know that one person who speaks just to speak. Those who like the sound of their voice above all others. Those people make me antsy, fidgety, and grumpy. That individual who I referenced at the start was not sharing necessary items. At least, it was not needed in the moment. And, of course, I then seem uninterested because I want the bullet version of their talking points. I feel horribly telling such people to wrap it up but my mind needs to breathe. But because I try hard to be kind, more often than not, I end up smiling and joking while wishing for the conversation to be over.

Thus, help a girl out. Ask yourself whether it is kind, true, and necessary. Now, necessary doesn’t mean you can’t joke around. It means the exact opposite. Humor is everything. Say things with a smile and an embedded joke or snappy comeback, I’m going to listen.

3 replies »

  1. This is all wise and true. The corollary, which I hope you’ll address at another time, is to be a good listener. I have a friend, a thoughtful guy with lots to say who’s a self-acknowledged introvert. He tells me he often finds himself in social situations surrounded by people who—as you mention—want only to hear the sound of their own voices. They want to tell him all about themselves, but they ask him nothing about himself. Inevitably, he remains silent—and those around him never gain from his keen observations.

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  2. I hate getting caught in situations where someone else is taking advantage of the fact that our parents reared us not to interrupt, and to be good listeners.
    Unfortunately, it was supposed to be reciprocal, and the other person didn’t have that parenting.
    But inside, I’m seething.
    I have learned to interrupt, to take control, to divert into something else – sometimes looking awkward as I do it – because life is too short.
    What the other person doesn’t get is that all that ‘sharing’ makes us want to avoid them the next time.

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