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JWR 3.7 - Telling it Like it Is


At work a lady came to me and said that she was going to start telling it like it is.  She said that she had been observing the way I am and has decided to just say whatever she feels.


Inside, I laughed.  I also cringed.  Then there was a stab of hunger and the painful ping of a small headache forming.  Blood pumped and intestines processed food and brain activity fired like the reactor core of the Death Star and neurons zapped throughin.  Outside, I spoke:


Are you sure youíre ready for that kind of leap?  Because, if you truly are ready to Ďtell it like it is,í as you so appropriately put it, then get ready for the fallout.  You are going to hurt peopleís feelings and you are going to lose friends and you are going to anger many many people and you are going to put your foot in your mouth right up to the kneecap.


I know why youíre doing this, but we first must ascertain the difference between telling it like it is and whatever in the hell it is that I do.  I can understand where the confusion comes in: I say things that you say that you would rather I keep secret, I know, but thatís only because you loathe and fear confrontation.  Youíd rather experience what goes on and secretly hate it rather than face it, acknowledge it and deal with it while possibly solving it.


You think I tell it like it is, but what I do is say loudly the things you say quietly because I want you to understand that asking questions is your right.  Itís your duty to question things.  You want to know something that you canít find out for yourself?  You ask.  But see, you ask me to ask someone else whoís right in the next room.  So, because I really donít feel like playing telephone or any other third grade games, I stand in the same position and ask loudly whatever.  Then I get an answer in an equally loud voice, one--by the way--that you can hear it, too, and you get your answer directly from the source and I donít waste twice as much of my time.


Telling it like it is is not about hurting feelings.  It you take it to extremes, then, yes, it can hurt feelings.  What you want to do is liberate yourself from the shackles of silence.  You donít need to be awful and loud in order to find out what you want to know.  All you need to do is face the answer and ask the question that you have.


I know, you just moved into a new house and you have a neighbor child that comes over every day.  You donít want her there, but you also donít say this to her.  So, instead it eats you up inside and you gain hate because you know what you think and itís so hard in your mind, how can the child not know it too?  And you tell others, so how, with you and others knowing, can this child not get it?  But, you lie.  You put on a smile when sheís around, and, no, maybe youíre not overtly nice to her, but you certainly arenít mean.


Whatís the solution?  Do you tell it like it is?  No, and hereís why: at this point, to tell it like it is, you might as well yell at this child with all the fury welled up inside you because you held out so long.  The proper thing to do would be to either speak to her honestly: tell her that you would appreciate it if she would call before coming over and ask if she could.  Then explain that the answer would often be "no" because, after a long day of "work"--ha-ha--you would rather relax and spend time with your family.  Or you can offer to walk her home, meet her parents for the first time and either explain this to them truthfully, or give them the story from above.  Either way, youíre now in control.  If she or they become offended, sheíll no longer come over.  If theyíre okay with it, sheíll be calling to ask if she can come over.  At that point, youíre in charge and you can say "no."


Thatís not telling it like it is.  Thatís diffusing a situation.  Thatís lying to spare someoneís feelings while still getting what you want.  Is it the best solution?  I think so, but, hey, tell it like it is, if you want.


ďI can see that you want to "tell it like it is" to me.  Donít bother.  This telling it like it is stuff only works on people who would care.  I donít care what you may think of my advice or attitude, so save it.


And I suppose you now feel that I am telling it like it is.  Iím not.  Iím actually trying to give advice, and, I think, sound advice at that.  Listen, donít listen; Iím not too concerned.  But understand that when you come in here tomorrow, when I hear you complain about the same situations again and again, what am I supposed to think?  You obviously did not tell it like it is, nor did you lie to them.


So, what am I supposed to think?  Iím not going to tell you like it is, but I will say that itís easy to say youíre going to change.  In your instance, youíre change will be to tell it like it is.  Well, you wonít because it is currently not in your nature to be confrontational.  Maybe in time, sure, you could be that way.  Change is hard.  Change requires work.  Youíre not the type.


She told me that she was going to tell ME like it is.  Days later I reminded her that she had yet to do this.  Itís hard to change.


I donít tell it like it is.  I hold in a lot, and for good reason.  I donít want to hurt feelings for the sake of hurting feelings.  If someone pisses you off enough purposely, then I say they may be in need of some telling it like it is...and an ass kicking.


Telling it like it is to others about something/someone else can be liberating in that you can get something off your chest and out in the open for others who may be able to give advice.  Telling it like it is over beers can make you feel goooood.  Telling it like it is to someone special can be like releasing your ankle from the duty of dragging around a large boulder.  Telling it like it is to an enemy will make you feel very good, especially when that fight breaks out, if youíre the first one to connect your foot with their groin.


This concludes my trilogy on ďSociological Post-Modernistic Reflections Concerning the Subject of Communication and Societal Reactions.Ē


Donations can be left at the door on your way out this evening.




Copyright © 2002 John Lemut