I read a lot of personal essays from people in their late teens. The theme of hurting people’s feelings versus being honest preoccupies many of them.
It’s all the more fascinating for me because I’ve experienced two cultures that have opposing views on this.
I’ve often seen Irish people choose to err on the side of sugarcoating reality and lying by omission in the name of being kind. Around here, you will be forgiven for being misleadingly delicate, but not for being insensitive.
On the flip side, the brutes from the old country would soon forgive someone for not considering someone’s feelings given that it is in the name of integrity. I’ve heard a lot of Russians retrospectively end friendships while accusing the perpetrator of “how could you not let me know that”… <my ass looked too big in that>, <our mutual friend didn’t invite me to the party>, etc. The “it’s not my business” defence doesn’t cut it for them.
Looking at it from a skin in the game perspective, you make a much bigger gamble when you risk offending someone by being straight with them.
At the same time, people often get carried away with their opinions to the point of forgetting that it is, after all, just an opinion, not “the truth”, and so communicating it may not really be that beneficial for someone else. Realising the insignificance of our humble opinions may be key here. Not sure you can do that to facts that your friend would prefer to know.
Assumptions: you know each other very well and solicit your friend’s opinions.
Who would you rather as your best friend? The insensitive swine who won’t hide their thoughts or the kindly sweetheart that weasels around the truth to avoid hurting you?
No Frankensteins. You have to choose.