The other night my wife Cathy asked me how I liked the brisket. Now, it is one thing to be honest and it is another thing to be cruel. I replied, “It’s dry and chewy, but I can eat it.” Now why, for the love of kindness, would I say that?
I have this thing about not lying. I also have this thing about consequences. Let’s suppose I said, “This meat is fantastic!” There are problems with this.
First of all, Cathy might think I’m lying to not hurt her feelings. Doing so would mean that she can’t trust what I say when her feelings are at stake.
Second of all, Cathy might think that I really like it this way and since she loves me she might make it a point to duplicate this latest effort. I am not going to lie and have to pay for it for eternity.
Lastly, maybe mine was dry and hers was moist and tender. Just because one section, maybe from the end, came out one way that doesn’t mean the next section more toward the middle wasn’t completely different.
We are honest, but not cruel. We are supportive of each other even if that means being critical so improvement can be made. Now, when she calls from the other room to ask how she looks, without looking or getting up I call out, “You look great! You should wear that more often.” That is a running joke between us.
Last night I told Cathy that I had just posted my blog and as soon as she could she watched it on her computer. Her response? “I couldn’t make out a word you were saying because the background music was too loud.” I didn’t know what she was talking about because I very carefully adjusted the level of that music, so I sat at her computer and put on her headphones and sure enough, through her less-than-state-of-the-art headphones the music was indeed too loud although I could indeed make out what I was saying clearly. Cathy has issues with certain kinds of background noise. The music did not sound as loud through my fancy amp because it has a fuller range which made my voice more pronounced. Through my own headphones the music was still louder than I intended.
See what is going on here? Cathy wants me to be the best I can be because she knows that matters more to me than stroking my ego. Next time I will have background music quieter and I will listen through headphones as well as through my main speakers. She did me a favor rather than stroke my ego, she helped me. (My ego is big enough for both of us as it is.)
Think about what you are doing when you flatter someone unjustly. You might be doing both them and yourself a disservice in the name of being nice.