I have always struggled walking the fine line between “nice and kind.” My problem, more specifically defined, is that I often see a large delta between being “short term nice” and “long term thoughtful.”
I have always far preferred surrounding myself with people who operate in the latter environment.
In the spirit of truth-seeking and continual improvement, I far prefer people hurt my feelings in the moment.
Tell me I have food in my teeth. Tell me I am slouching. Tell me I am boring and talking too loudly.
Perhaps I was raised this way…or maybe I have just failed a lot.
But please do tell me now! And tell me what you really think.
Perhaps this sounds obvious, but abstracted it does not always play out so cleanly. Often, by expressing your true emotions, you end up damaging others. You end up making others feel bad about themselves in the moment. Even if you are, say, talking in “the spirit of being long term helpful,” it is really hard for people to see that. You have to bring them along the journey otherwise you are just “being rude and lazy.”
You have to close the delta such that people see the long term value in what you are saying. Is it my duty to do this? Probably. There are different ways to package what you say such that phrases become a lot more or less effective.
It also really depends on your goal.
Arguing is for ego.
Discussions are for everyone.
If people are not trying to ascertain the truth, then what is the point of having the discussion? If everyone can at least agree on the “goal,” or at least spirit of the conversation, then we can make progress.
I recognize that the two spheres are not necessarily mutually exclusive. You can be long term thoughtful without hurting others feelings.
That is something I am certainly working on.
I care a lot about others – perhaps too much at times as I am often disappointed by outcomes of relationships. I do not think many of my tangential relationships really think that I care.
Caring, in my mind, is not at all about being surface-level nice. It is about showing up when people need you. It is about people telling you how they really feel and saving you lots of trouble down the line.
I can come across as sharp or controversial or contrarian. None of that is because I do not care. In fact, I would say the opposite. It is because I care a ton. I care so much about the truth that I let it obfuscate my vision and hurt others feelings.
I have been dealing with this problem for years.
Do I smile and wave or do I show people how much I really care?
Also published on Medium.