Musings From A Musical Mind

Greg and I were driving down the road the other day and we were discussing something and all of a sudden he blurted out, “This would make an excellent topic for your blog – a poll on what our society values – Authenticity Or Tact!”

To be honest – I value Authenticity.  No longer one who “stuffs” things and hides behind a smiling veneer – I want things to be told just how they are.  The old “Tell It Like It Is” – rings true to me and burns through my heart and soul.  But I also realize that with ‘telling it like it is’ – there is a personal cost.  And I also realize that Authenticity is subjective at best.

We are a society that is fast becoming desensitized to any and all forms of good manners, chivalry, being the bigger person, kindness, scruples and yes, tact.  I read about it online – through blog posts, facebook and twitter updates and I see and experience it in person – those who will not look me in the eye and say, “good morning” – or “how are you today” – or anything at all.

A few months ago I was in a Starbucks with my husband and was getting cream for my coffee and there was a man in his late twenties or early thirties standing at the bar.  I spoke a greeting to him – I’m very friendly and outgoing and usually always speak first – that was no surprise that I had to do so with him.  What surprised and even shocked me was this:  there was no response from him at all.  None.  Nada.  He did not even look at me.  Bad manners you say?  Poor breeding?  No tact?  Yes.  Sadly – all of these.   Was he being real?  Authentic?  True to himself?  Probably.  What I saw – is probably who he really is.  And no – he was not hard of hearing – he was able to talk and listen on his phone just fine.

Since I am a member of this society – and even belong to a generation that values manners and tact – to me that is rude and unacceptable.

But I am also torn.  I love to hear about people – how they really are.  No fluff – no pretense – no hiding behind a smile.  “How are you?  GREAT just GREAT!”  Doesn’t cut it anymore.  Now I know you can’t just ‘spill your guts’ to everyone and there’s a time and place for everything – but sometimes it makes me want to scream when people act like everything is okay – and their world is falling apart.

We have known people over the years – friends in fact, who seemed to have it all together and then one day – their household and relationship blew up!  No one knew about it – until after it was too late.

What does this say about us as a society?  As a Christian community?  As individuals?  It tells me this:  We do not give permission for people to be really real with us.  We hold them at an arm’s length to protect ourselves.  We think, ‘I have too much on my own plate – to deal with their junk’ – and it is felt and understood by those people that we push away.  What does “bearing each others burdens” really mean?  It means:  Listening.  It means: Praying.  It means: Getting involved.

Authenticity comes with a price tag.

Tact requires censoring yourself.

Authenticity says:  I will share my information with you even if it hurts.

Tact says:  I will not hurt you.

What do you value?  What do you think our society values?  How do we have the best of both worlds?  How can I stay true to myself and still love and value you – even if we disagree?

Something to thing about.

God Bless

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Comments on: "Authenticity Or Tact? What Do You Value?" (6)

  1. I agree, Tact and authenticity are not mutually exclusive and are in fact best when used together.

    In many ways “Tact” is how you say something while “authenticity” speaks to the content, and sentiments behind what you are saying.

  2. You have to have both. Tact isn’t just saying what the other person wants to hear just as authenticity doesn’t give you license to be rude. This is the point of effective communication and what I have been writing and speaking about for over eight years. If you look at what the Bible says about sharing the Good News, He tells us we may be persecuted for being authentic and telling the truth, but He also shares scriptures that tell us how to speak in grace and tells us to be careful of our tongues and the words we use. The problem is that these days most people feel we each have the right to free speech which they interpret to mean that we are all free to speak however and whatever we like. The reality is that what we say and how we saying it has consequences. You may be free to speak, but your listener has the right to take offense. The real trick is to speak the truth in grace so that it has the best chance to be heard and interpreted as it was intended. It doesn’t always work, but it’s the most effective way to communicate.

  3. I actually value both. I agree that we hold people at arm’s length to protect ourselves, not for their comfort. I guess I lean toward the authenticity approach. Still, sometimes you just need tact. I watched Clint Eastwood’s “Flags of our Fathers” the other night which is about the flag raising on Iwo Jima in WWII. It was actually done twice and unbeknownst to most, there were a few different people in each one. In the movie, one gold star mom who thinks it was her son in the famous photo (she has been told by the gov’t that it is) comes over to the guy who was there for both and asks if this truly is her son. He knows it was not. He tries to get over by saying, “Well, everything happened so fast and”. . . but her eyes are begging him so he says, “Yes, ma’am, I’m pretty sure that was Hank right there,” or words to that effect. He brought her comfort. At the end of the war, though, the error is discovered and she is told. She is also now excluded from any ceremonies about that picture. She is very hurt, to say the least. But did the other guy do the right thing? I think he did. Her grief was so raw then. All she had was that picture. Would it have been right had he said, “I’m sorry, ma’am, but your son wasn’t there no matter what you’ve been told?” Yes, it would’ve been right, but I’m not so sure I wouldn’t have done the same thing he did. Good point to ponder, Cindy!

    • Great example, Carla! I seem to remember something about that famous picture and the boy in question in the photo – yes I think that man did the right thing. Tact sometimes is the best thing. I wish a situation that I was in a couple of years ago had been handled with the same tact and grace. Sadly it was not. People and relationships are ALWAYS more important – than simply “I’ve got to be me” attitude – that leaves people wounded and bleeding. This is why being totally authentic comes with a HUGE price-tag – it means sometimes dividing relationships with those you care most about.

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