I just learned from my friend Author Madhuri Banerjee that recently an award winning poet was invited for a poetry discussion. When the session had completed its mandatory one hour, the young organiser from the side told him to hurry up!
The audience requested for one last poem and the poet obliged. He said he would make it a short one and began reciting a verse.
Just then the emcee came on stage, cut him off and said, “I’m sorry but we’re out of time and we need the podium for the next speaker who’s already waiting.”
Tactlessness is the knack of being impolite and insensitive even when you don’t need to be!
It would not have made a difference if everyone waited five extra minutes for the next session. It would have made the poet feel special and the audience happy.But the emcee didn’t even know she had done something wrong!
There’s a thin line between truth and tactlessness, between honesty and bluntness, between diplomacy and impoliteness.
The former is something that will benefit all. The latter is something that will benefit only you.
Why are there so many people who believe it’s okay to say what they want, do as they feel and be who they are even if it means hurting other’s sentiments? Why is rudeness and honesty taken as such virtues?
“I’m just saying how I feel,” is the common thought across the world.
But what about how others feel?
Throughout my childhood I was told, “We don’t say these things!” And I would ask, “But why? It’s the truth.” And I was told by my parents, “Because it’s your truth. Not theirs. What you say hurts someone. And it’s never right to hurt someone, not just physically but emotionally as well.” “But what do I care? How is it going to benefit me?” And my mother would remind me, “It makes people feel bad and that energy comes back to you!”
We don’t care if we’re perceived as kind people. We care if we’re seen as successful people. We live in a time where we’re told to be blunt. To be truthful. It is the time where crass sells. Not kindness. An age where insulting people is funny. Not complimenting them. An era of careless comments, not judicious thoughts.
So we don’t care what we say or what we do as long as we’re recognised, appreciated and liked. Leaving dents on others’ hearts and damages to our souls.
Understanding how to be tactful can happen at any age. It’s a matter of holding your tongue when you’re angry or you’re upset or you feel it’s okay to be honest right now!
Tact comes when in the moment you want to say something “truthful” you think about what the other person will feel.
And if you care enough to not hurt their soul, you’ll find yourself saying something considerate, giving that person extra time to speak, knowing that what you say will bring some happiness in their life and goodness to yours!