As we grow older, we realize that in many situations, it is a good idea to keep quiet or better still, be diplomatic and tactfully handle sensitive issues. The dividing line between being honest and being diplomatic is a thin one. We have to be careful in deciding when to be honest and when to be at our diplomatic best. We also have to decide whether we should be absolutely candid, or use the truth as a matter of convenience?
Our relationships demand complete honesty, or else, we get into trouble. In a household, for instance, the husband was quite diplomatic in commenting on his wife’s unpalatable cooking. Whatever his wife would cook, he would always say the food was ‘not bad.’ He would avoid criticizing his wife’s cooking skills. The situation worsened to a point when the wife cooked food that was almost inedible. The husband could not take it anymore and screamed at his wife for serving such bad-tasting food. The wife was taken aback. From that day onwards, everything the husband had diplomatically covered up started to break down. Daily fights and arguments became the order of the day between the husband and wife. One day, both of them decided they could not live together anymore.
This might be a worst case scenario, but it serves as a good example for us to know where our diplomacy or lack of honesty can lead to in our relationships. Before you decide to be totally frank, you must carefully analyze all consequences of your actions. While life needs a good mix of honesty and diplomacy, when to be honest and when to be diplomatic is a tough individual choice. Whatever we do must make us comfortable, peaceful and happy. An honest person will feel frustrated and restless when forced to be diplomatic against his will, while a diplomatic one will get highly stressed at the thought of speaking the truth. How to react in a situation also depends on what is at stake. If you want to be honest and speak your mind against your boss, you better be prepared to lose your job. If you tell your friend what you hate about him, it might end your friendship. Once you are ready to accept the consequences, without regret or remorse, then you can be honest.
Why do we become diplomatic when we know the obvious truth? Diplomacy is always an escapist trait, which we use to avoid hurting others and ourselves. When the wife asks the husband: “Am I looking fat?” and the husband answers honestly, “Yes, you have put on too much weight,” one can well imagine the wife’s reactions and the husband’s plight. But if the husband speaks his mind and faces his wife’s wrath out of genuine affection for her, it is likely that she will enroll herself in some fitness programme and actually lose weight! Diplomacy protects us in the short term, but it is honesty that brings long-term benefits and permanent gains.
To be completely honest, you must ask yourself, “Why am I afraid of speaking the truth”? You will find that the answer is obvious. Our Diplomacy is only for our self-protection; it is a self-preservation device. Our egos are too fragile to accept insult and criticism. In our daily lives, few of us want to rock the boat by speaking the truth at work or in our homes. We like to avoid confrontations. The difference between living a superficial life and a rich and meaningful one is eventually determined by whether we are being diplomatic or brutally honest.