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The fine line between being “straightforward” and being “rude”  

Himika Akram reporter  

The current world is dynamic, and each has many shades to their personality. It is sometimes difficult to gauge what is appropriate and what is not. Instead of playing guessing games, I always feel comfortable being around people who are straightforward. They just speak their mind, do not beat around the bush. If they are upset, you know they are upset. If they are sad, you know they are sad and if they are happy, they will always share their happiness with you. That is straightforward to me. Who gives you their clear opinion instead of playing with words, when you ask for their opinion or advice? 

But for the past couple of years, I have been noticing, people use the term “straightforward” or “bluntly honest” as a shield for being mean or blunt. Being blunt is saying something without considering how the other person might feel after hearing that, but intention might not be to hurt others. I remember, many years ago, a guy, who was at quite an elevated position at my workplace, came to me only to say, “the other day my wife saw you at an event and said, “she looks so pretty in her pictures, but I was quite surprised to see her in person.” I was shocked and speechless at that moment, not knowing what to say or how to react. In this case, it seemed to me that guy was not deliberately being mean, he just did not know how to talk like a sensible person. Some people just talk bluntly simply because they lack common sense. Either nobody taught them the art of speaking in a sensitive way, or they never bothered to learn. 

On the other hand, there are people who speak rudely on purpose, to look cool. When a person is being mean or rude, he or she deliberately does it to put other people down, they are simply being manipulative and trying to hurt other people’s feelings. Covering up one’s inconsiderate behavior with the proud statement like “I am very straightforward” does not make anything better, rather it spoils everything. There is a popular saying, “if you cannot say anything nice, do not say anything at all,” this is what we all need to follow in any relationship. There are respectful ways of saying things.  Yes, sometimes we say harsh words when we are mad at someone, or in between an intense argument. That is, even though unacceptable, a different issue. But when one is sober, completely in a normal mood, saying harsh things only to rub it in somebody’s face and later covering it up with the word “straightforward” is simply classless. 

If your friend wears a dress, which makes him or her look fat, and if you say, “you look ugly in this dress,” this is just mean. Instead of that, if we say “this dress seems to have fitting issues” it is nicer and politer. There are some elements of truth in it, but you do not sound mean here, you are not sugarcoating your words either. 

But the issue is, most of the people these days, when trolling, memes, roasting these all are common on social media, and anybody can express their opinion, the thin line between straightforwardness and rudeness is being blurred to a considerable extent. Being rude, making fun of others, saying something in a disrespectful way and then boasting about one’s “blunt honesty” is so common amongst the youth.  

Plain and simple, straightforwardness is when you are expressing your opinion about the subject, but rudeness/meanness, when you are expressing your opinion on the subject, at the same time making it specific about a person. Sometimes we should refrain ourselves from telling the truth, if telling the truth makes us look like a jerk. As they say, “silence is a great virtue.” At some points, we really need to embrace that virtue to happily live with the people around us.  

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