Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Hypocrisy vs. Diplomacy

I have always prided myself that I am quite 'frank'. Frank to the point of being blunt. If I don't like something I say so. If I like something I say so emphatically! But even I cannot be 100% frank, 100% of the time. There are times when being honest and truthful goes against common sense. The most basic of instincts in Man, actually in all animals, is the instinct for self-preservation. That's why when dad asks, "Did you break the window?", the child's head is already shaking in negative even before the question is finished, never mind the truth!
Then there are times when speaking the blunt truth will hurt somebody's feelings.
So, when someone is reading you a poem that he, (or worse still, his girlfriend) wrote, you are in a pickle. Do you want to say, "Nice!" or do you want to say, "Man, she sucks!"? Of course, there is that theory about finding one thing to praise and ignore the bad. In this case that'd leave you the option to say, "Yellow paper, huh? Very nice!"
Enters diplomacy! The art of saying things you don't mean and saying things in a way that hurts the least. Or sometimes just not saying anything!
"A diplomat always remembers a woman's birthday but never her age!"
"Diplomacy is the art of saying "Nice doggie" until you can find a rock."
"Diplomacy is thinking twice before saying nothing."
"A lover tries to stand in well with the pet dog of the house."
The long and short of it is that sometimes to get a favor, sometimes to be polite, to avoid hurting feelings, to save ourselves, to avoid expense...for various reasons, we find it necessary to be diplomatic.
Then what is hypocrisy? Not saying what you are thinking? Or saying the opposite of what you are thinking?
I have seen people who when they are talking to someone are all sugar and saccharine and just as the other person walks away they turn to me and say, "Oh, I hate that guy!" And I am thinking, 'What will he/she say when I walk away?'
I myself try to be diplomatic without being hypocritic. My friends know which one of them I like and how much. What habits of theirs I find interesting and which I hate. Sometimes I find it a fine line to walk. "When in doubt, tell the truth." I like to tell the truth but at the same time not try to hurt feelings. This second part I am still working on. :-)
One good thing about being frank is that people know where they stand with you and vice versa. A line of praise coming from me would mean something. A criticism from me would not be to just hurt their feelings. And because I speak bluntly they know I can take it when they need to speak freely with me.
According to Emerson:
"Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing."
I agree. And it is fun to see that astonishment!
I would like to end with a scene I find funny, it's a classic and I always think of it when someone says anything about being frank.
This is from the classic movie Wayne's World 2. Kim Basinger and Dana Carvey are sitting on the couch.
Kim says, "I am going to be frank!"
He replies, "O..kay! Can I still be Garth?"
Makes me laugh even to think about it.

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