Friday, May 06, 2005

terrible tact!

Note: I understand that truth must be tempered with tact, but I find that for me, it would be better if tact were tempered with truth.

How many times has the perfect moment come, but my words failed to come with it?
How often have I abstained from telling truth, and settled for tact instead?
And how many moments have slipped through my fingers--lost forever?
Moments when I could have touched a soul, but flattered instead?
That terrible nod and smile of supposed understanding has too often belonged to me, and I have listened silently as others have explained and reasoned--trying desparately to justify their wrong-doing.
And I so afraid of offending my fellow human being, simply let it pass, terrified of the result should I speak.
Others tell me that tact and sensitivity are my gift and should be cultivated.
But sometimes I think it would be more appropriate to call it cowardice.
I would rather be called sincere.
I would rather be known as a woman who means what she says and says what she means. What a truthful life I would lead!

30 comments:

Brandy said...
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CelloChic said...

Amen. Insightful quote and application of it. You do have tact and sensitivity (which take effort) combined with wisdom. We all fall into passivity (which takes no effort) at times which is an easy thing to fall back on. If it weren't for the fact that we know, and have standards for, truth, we would have it so much easier, eh? We don't have a "whatever rocks your boat" mentality, so we need to spit and mean it! Let's get real!

Joshua said...

Indeed, that 'nod and smile' of understanding are something that I sometimes abhor in myself. Why, when the world is so blatant in pushing their viewpoint, am I nervous to state the truth? Sometimes in the moment I pride myself on changing the subject smoothly when perhaps that subject was just what needed to be discussed the most. Thank-you for posting this Rebekah, I'm going to think more on it.
P.S. Erin - I think it is "whatever floats your boat", not what rocks it - maybe the "whatever rocks your boat" is what we should have!

Rebekah said...

I always struggle to cut through the fat and "get real" as Erin said. But girl, people like you and Sara inspire me so very much. You can say it, mean it, and not be apologetic about it. I hem and haw a little, beat around the bush alot, and end up way down playing something that I privately feel VERY strongly about.

CelloChic said...

Haha. Yes, it is "whatever floats your boat." I've just heard a lot of people say "w/e rocks your boat" at school...and it subconiously stuck!

Crystal said...

Ah tact, the bain of my life. I just don't seem to have conqured that yet. I just don't see the need to beat around the bush. There just isn't time for that. Call a spade a spade and tell it like it is seem to my bi-words of late. Thanks for bringing this topic up so I can think about it even more! People tell me a work that I have a pleasentness about my forthrightness but somehow I don't see it and the older I get the worse it's getting. I fear for the future, rather I fear for everyone else in my future! LOL I just can't seem to stop myself from telling like it is. For example why do we have 15 words(a little exageration) for the idea of lying??? Do we really need that many? Why can't we just say someone lied and not have people get offended instead of, "well they stretched the truth", "they told a little white lie." "They didn't really give me all the facts," and the list goes on...just say they lied. Do you realize how much time is wastedby not really saying what you mean. The amounts would be staggering I am sure...Ok enough Crystal, get off your soap box.

Ok I am done now...as you can tell Rebekah I don't quite have the same problem you mentioned but none the less it's frusterating and must be dealt with. Thanks for bring this up!

Now about your comment about cowerdice...I can't speak for you but I don't know if I would call it cowerdice as lack of confidence in some cases. Also there is a difference between telling it like it is and being honest and being attacking. That's where the wisdom comes in, wisdom that I personally lack in come instances. I get so caught up in being honest at times that I forget to step back and see if dealing with this is even going to do any good or if it will only push the person further away. It's a very delicate balance and as I daily learn, one that is not learned overnight. Don't dispair and pray lots! Mayeb we can encourage one another in the areas where we are not as strong!

tasha said...

I can really relate, Rebekah, when you say that you're 'afraid of offending my fellow human being ... terrified of the result should I speak'. I'm far from bold when I should be bold. C.S. Lewis said, "There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, and civilizations, these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit, immortal horrors or everlasting splendours". Too often I am short-sighted and worry about what a person's immediate reaction will be. I remember that I cannot save people, but I forget that I can, with God's help, plant seeds and I need to trust God to do the watering and tending. A tree doesn't grow up overnight, and many people are turned around by God slowly. It is pride and selfishness on my part when I do not speak the truth, for my soul has beem secured by Christ; where is my love for my fellow man when I cannot sacrifice a little of my comfort to tell them the truth?

Anna said...

Ah yes! Tact. I know about that too. Sometimes I do feel like I am 'smiling and nodding' at a point shared when I don't know how to say no that's not right! Sometimes though it can be a joy to know how to use it. For these days who is alowed to say what is right? Then tact can come into play to help you give your views. Many people I have worked with know my views on lots of things without my having to argue them out. Please do not think I am saying I am a master of tact. I am most definatly not. Many times I have had that same feeling of guilt, knowing an opportunity is passed never to be regained. But God provides those opportunities, and they will keep coming.

Crystal said...

Thank God he doesn't give up on us and patiently keeps allowing us to cover the same ground till we learn our lessons.

R.Marrakesh said...

When someone says something that I don't agree and its not life threatening, Me saying nothing is not tact, I've just decided to choose my battles carefully. BUT, when I do step in and voice an opposing opinion to something that a person said that was actually wrong, tact comes in as how I word my opinion. Do I just blare in with a blunt attitude and ungently push them in the right direction? Or do I tactfully present the truth to them and kindly lead them to the right conclusion?

In my short life of 16 years I have been corrected by both tactful and non-tactful people. So far, the corrections of the tactful people have stuck with me the longest, because the way that they presented their argument wasn't "bring you down to the dirt" mode.

Maybe I am way off base and correct me if I'm wrong, but I have always been led to believe that tact is not silence, but the ability to gently admonish someone in a none threatening way. Tact is gently telling the truth.

That said, NOT correcting someone when all conditions are favorable to (i.e it is our place to do so, and it is an important issue)is a sort of fear that a big dose of prayer and reading often helps. Choose the battles and THEN use that large supply of tact that God has given you to win over the wrong doer.

Forgive me if this sounded like a sermon as it wasn't meant to be one.

Rebekah said...

No Jen, you weren't sermonizing--besides...you're absolutely right. Thank you for that. My real problem is finding ballance. I shouldn't be a coward and neither should I be every-body's boss. Tact really is a beautiful thing when used properly. I have embraced it for so long, that I suppose I have lost touch with its true meaning and started associating it with "tolerance" instead. I will now endeavor to be truthful, tactful, and...charming. Boy, is this going to be diffucult.

Rebekah said...

Anna, I'm glad that you are a "silent" witness. Well not exactly silent, but you know what I mean. It really is amazing how people you associate with can somehow sense that you're different. Sometimes actions DO speak louder than words.

Crystal said...

This whole discussion and your comment in the post about wanting to known as a woman who says what she means reminded me of a little saying I read once and has stuck with me.
Sow a thought,
reap and action.
Sow an action,
reap a habit.
Sow a habit,
reap a character,
Sow a character,
reap a reputation.

Sunshine said...

A little off topic as I often am, I would like to point out a cultural contrast.

The thing you express as a problem is unheard of in Germany. The people are known for being painfully strait-forward, to a fault sometimes. It only seems wrong to an outsider, to the Germans, you say what you think, always. I have come to like it, although it often has me insulting people in more conservative countries. The US is very soft spoken when it comes to personal communication, probably because you can sue one another for verbal abuse!

It's all about comfort, you don't want to make the other person uncomfortable. But even more important, you don't want to become uncomfortable. Calling yourself a coward might be going a little far, but I think it's true, you are afraid.

Crystal said...

Ditto Sunshine...I have many German friends and have been there twice and I think their blunt, pointedness may have something to do with why they are considered somewhat cold and unfriendly. Sometimes I think they go too far, at least the ones I know, but their intentions are usually good. I think you might be on to something about the Americans being too polite.

Sunshine said...

Something to do with Germany's climate I suppose. They do mean well, and you only think they went too far because you have a different standard for friendly openness. Relating is so complicated sometimes.

Heh, no one has ever said "Ditto" to me... I assume it's a positive thing?

Crystal said...

Yes "Ditto" it a positive thing. It means, exactly, couldn't have said it better myself, I agree with that you said. i have not idea where I first heard it or picked it up but it's been around for a while.

The reason I said sometimes I think my german friends have stepped over the line is because I think they have gone from blunt, which I have no problem with, to judgemental and closed minded in a very short time. We are German and you are not and nothing you can say will change the fact that you are wrong. Sort of the attitude that has been displayed a few times. Not to put them down or anything it's just something I am aware of so that I realize how close the line between blunt and judgemental is. The difference often only seen in your attitude and your purpose for being straightforward and I must admit I haven't always been a great example of keeping the attitude correct. One of those things that I am aware of and working on...People are so facinating and yet SOOOOO complicated!

Rebekah said...

Thanks for your comments--I have a lot of German blood in me, from both sides of my family. Apparently, I didn't inherit their mode of address! =)

Sunshine said...

Thank you Crystal, I now understand.

Beks, it would be interesting if you could inherit traits of character through your mixed blood. I am not surprised that you didn't.

Nathan R said...

Hey Beka, remember in Acts, (chapter/verse are forgotten...should bring my Bible to work) a couple of the apostles were arrested for preaching in the name of Jesus? If I remember correctly, they prayed for BOLDNESS. It's something we should pray that God would bless US with as well. Remember, His words are the best. Pray for opportunity, wisdom, discretion, His will to be done. Pray for the future, that you/we might be prepared for what God puts in front of us. i.e. trials, tribulations, blessings. Glorify Him. I speak out of my own need. God help me. Love from your Bro.

Rebekah said...

Thank you bro! I do wonder if I would have the boldness in such situations. Lately, I've felt myself being able to say things that I would havs shrunk from previously. I'm sort of glad about that. I'm always afraid that I will lose my sensitivity towards others. It is very hard to find the ballance!

I'll pray that your striving is rewarded with an even greater working of righteousness in your heart. I will pray, as I pray for myself, that He would refine you like precious gold. That you would have the boldness no matter what is ahead for you. Thank you so much for exorting me--I love it when people do that! Love back.

P.S. Mom got the roses--beautiful!

Nathan R said...

Pray, pray, pray! Trust! Wish I could see the roses. Love.

Anna said...

Nate-the roses are gorgeous, and Mom is definatly enjoying them! Love to you!

sarah said...

Beka,

Some people view Northerners as cold, unkind, tactless, etc. I am married to one and I think that picture is not accurate. His family communicate like no other family I have seen. I am soon to move to Long Island - quite close to Queens, in fact, and I have come to love the refreshing geniuneness of the people there. Many of the Christians are first-generation and still have the excitement of new salvation that is sadly lacking sometimes in older Christians. I know of a Christian man who is so burdened to share the gospel that he preaches openly on the train into the City. NYers respect sincerity and few are bashful. I am naturally so unlike them, but see how much I can learn from them.

Am I bold in evangelizing? Am I excited about the things of Christ or am I a ho-hum Christian? Do I love the brethren enough to challenge them to holiness and am I humble enough to accept the same in return? Do I love Christ more than my own reputation? Would I cringe and not own my God if I heard someone evangelizing on a train?

Anonymous said...

Dear Rebekah
Thanks for putting this on your blog. It was very insightful (if that is even a word) And I really find it to be something that many people struggle with. I personly am to blunt on what I speak on. And can unknowingly sometimes hurt people. So it can go both ways.

Anonymous

Sis Rachel said...

I'm finally looking at your blog--sorry it took so long! Bek, you know that I have had the opposite problem of tactlessness, but with the same motivation: a caring for myself more than I should. Remember that love for others and more importantly, God should always be our motive in our communication. It is love that fulfills the law, after all. If we are too tactful because of our fear of man rather than of God, we are wrong. If we are too tactless because of our love for our own opinion (correct or not), we are wrong too. That perfect balance of tact in communication will only come with an overflowing of love for others--and will only be perfected when we have perfect love for our brethren. So cultivate true love for others--love that seeks the building up of each other in grace, love that is alert to the proper time and place, love that is selflessly thinking of what is best for the other.

This love is sometimes painful--but it's a good pain--a bleeding for others. But that's a slightly different subject. :) Glad you're thinking about these things! I love you!

Rebekah said...

Rachel--Welcome to my blog sis! And how are things down in sunshine land? Thank you for your insightful comment. Commenting is also a sign of caring for the other person.

It seems to always come down to this ultimate problem--balance. And what I think I'm getting from your post, either extremes are manifestations of the individual's particular selfish tendency. I am only just beginning to realize this.

Rebekah said...

Yes, Sarah--sincerity. This is what I long for most I think. I want others to know that I am perfectly serious when I complement them or admonish them. I want them to feel that what I said was indeed something worth listening to. Yes, and would I be willing to hear the same from a fellow Christian? Would I take it without offence, no matter what the wording or tone?

Sis Rachel said...

At the risk of belaboring the point, I must say that it is not balance that it comes down to! It is LOVE! Forget the balance! Everyone is different and balance for one person won't be balance for another. Keeping an eye on balance is still keeping in mind what they will think of ME. No, overflow with love for others, my dear sister, and you will be thinking about how they will respond for the sake of their souls, not your reputation. The Scriptures overflow with admonitions to love. Everything is to be done in love. If we could understand this one thing, most relational issues in the church would be solved. This love is the motivating force behind everything, from church discipline to the meals we bring to the sick. I weep when I think of the festering sores that occur when Biblical love is not carried out. Study the epistles and you'll see what I mean.

Rebekah said...

Point taken Rachel--perhaps balance is not the ultimate problem here, like you say. Of course it would be love. Thank you for correcting me. That is what this blog is all about really, getting wisdom from others. If everything is done out of a great love, you almost cannot go wrong! I will definately study the epistles more and most assuredly see what you mean!