How often do you hear people say the would prefer you be honest and tell them a problem to their face than talk to someone else about it? Another scenario might be a friend or relative irritates you for awhile but you keep it to yourself, but once the truth comes out they react poorly while at the same time saying you should have said something sooner. Perhaps another situation may be when a friend’s behavior is concerning and you bring it up right away because that friend has claimed for years they value honesty, but when you approach them they do not take it well. You may employ every bit of tact and gentleness at your disposal, but still the friend blows up and hurls accusations at you. Most people who are older than elementary age have experienced this. People say they want honesty, but how many really do?
This blog is in no way justifying or advocating lying. It is merely my unscientific observation that many times people cannot handle the level of honesty they ask for. It is human nature to want to be liked and when we find out someone has an issue with us, even if it is valid, our natural instinct is to build up a defensive wall. Ideally, by the time someone reaches adulthood, that person should be able to take constructive criticism without getting defensive and hurling accusations. Unfortunately, this appears to be the exception, not the rule.
Does this mean we should shirk away from telling someone we have an issue? Not at all. It simply means we need to condition ourselves to care less what people think. We should always show gentleness, kindness, and love to others. However, if someone reacts poorly to the truth than it is their problem not yours. A friend should listen, and if they do not calm down and try to see your point of view then that reflects more on them than you. If your issue is untrue or based on an assumption then you should show maturity as well and admit it. Ultimately, an issue never gets resolved if it isn’t discussed.
Now what does this have to do with writing? Characterization and feedback are the two answers. I will go into greater detail on that in the next post.