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Rude, hurtful opinions not constructive

Advice

By Cody McFarland, staff illustrator
On February 9, 2010

  • Cody McFarland, staff illustrator. / The Advocate

He's fat. She's a cake face. They're a really ugly couple. We hear and say these kinds of things every day, but to what benefit and at whose expense?

"Well, I'm just being honest."

Well, this is me just being honest: that's a cop-out, and there is, quite frankly, a huge difference between being honest and being a jerk.

For example, if in your opinion a girl wears too much makeup, do not call her a cake face. Doing so is unnecessary and insensitive.

Instead, tell her she does not need as much makeup, as it mars her natural beauty. If you cannot find truth in the latter, do not resort to the former; merely opt to keep your opinion to yourself.

If she asks for your thoughts, on the other hand, give her the honest reply that you do think she wears too much makeup, and it would be beneficial to her appearance, in your opinion, to wear less. This way, you speak truthfully and avoid insulting her.

Such a comparison is paralleled by the difference between constructive criticism and reproach.

Abrasive, judgmental commentary of a person's thoughts and actions will only serve to demean, deprecate and anger them.

You can point out a million of their problems, but unless you offer counsel or some form of sympathy, the only thing you have managed to do is add yourself to that list of problems.

We were all told as kids that if you do not have anything nice to say, do not say anything at all. Even in adulthood, these instructions remain an axiom.

Though everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, you should not share if you might hurt someone's feelings in doing so.

In this sense, it is paramount to choose words politely with the person's emotions in mind.

The best route is to find a middle ground. In this case, it is to word things in a way that can be uplifting, or to euphemistically say something if you choose to speak on the subject at all.

By no means am I suggesting that people should feel ashamed of their opinions or lie about their feelings; simply do not disclose them if you cannot find a way to be constructive.

If your opinion is rude or hurtful and you do not deem it necessary to consider others' feelings enough to even mildly censor yourself, then your best bet is holding your tongue.

To those self-righteous enough to entertain the idea that their opinion, however damaging it may be, is valued as a necessary and unrelenting truth, I assure you that your piety is detrimental to the development of affable relationships.

If the only connection you care to make is someone's fist to your face, then go right ahead in being "honest."

I will be supporting social growth and development by offering kind words of encouragement through constructive opinion.

Cody McFarland is a staff illustrator for The Advocate. Contact him at cmcfarland.advocate@gmail.com


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