Friday, August 5, 2011

Honesty vs. Rudeness

We have one woman here in the department who is very proud of her faith. I've spoken of her before, Southern Baptist Woman!*

*Disclaimer: Her actions and/or beliefs are not to be taken as universal to all Southern Baptists.

SBW! likes to say that she never lies because lying is a sin. Okay. I'm behind that. I try not to lie for the same reason. I don't claim that I *never* lie, because I do. So saying I didn't would be another lie! I do my best not to lie, of course, but I used to be a nearly compulsive liar. It's a hard habit to break, especially when the truth is something I personally don't like. But this is not about me! :) Anyway. SBW! makes a big deal of her lack of lying. And I'll say that I've never caught her in a lie, so it may even be true. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt there.

My issue is that SBW! uses this 'honesty policy' as an excuse for absolute rudeness. For example: One of the other women in the department is trying out new contact lenses. She's got to use tri-focals, and I guess these are contacts that do the same thing. We're very used to her wearing glasses, so when she came in the first day without the glasses it was very obvious. SBW!, when we were talking about the glasses vs. contact lenses thing, busts out with, 'When you first walked in, I thought you had two black eyes!'. And we all just *stared* at her. Because yes, the woman did have fairly noticeable bags under her eyes - she's not used to having to put makeup on to cover them because the glasses covered them - but SBW! said it exactly that way, in front of the entire department. Rather than just saying something polite, like, 'Oh, I think you look better with the glasses', or even, taking her aside and pointing out that she had bags under her eyes one on one, privately.

And she does this a lot. It's never anything untrue, but the way she does it is rude. There's a way to be both honest and polite, and SBW! doesn't seem to either get it or care about it. She seems to think that as long as she doesn't lie, she can say whatever she wants to say.

That's not true.

It's true that sometimes what we will say, no matter how we try and say it, will hurt someones feelings or make them angry. And sometimes what must be said should be said without sugar coating. But there are plenty of times, most of the time in fact, where a little tact is called for. A little consideration for the feelings and humanity of the person you're talking to.


  1. I had a friend like that once, a relatively new and zealous christian she used her 'honesty' unkindly. Any rude comment was "well it's true." But that does not mean it needs to be said! How would SBW if people started pointing out uncomfortable truths about her? The Bible tells us lying is wrong - but it also warns us about gossip, insulting behaviour and loose toungues. It tells us to be loving, kind, humble and gentle with others. Does her behaviour fit that description? I would really take her aside Amber, and gently and kindly point this out to her. Maybe she is unaware how offensive she is being. Emphasise that you admire her truthfulness and it is because you are aware she is a christian and woman of faith you feel comfortable bringing it up. Encourage her when she shows restraint.
    Whatever the case, keep us posted! :)

  2. I've tried telling her, privately, how rude she's being and how offensive it is. It's just part of her personality, unfortunately. She's rude about a lot of things, even food that she doesn't like. She makes vomiting noises if a person is eating something she thinks is gross. I've called her on that and she's 'trying' to do better about not doing it. The problem with taking her aside, Christian to Christian is that she doesn't believe I'm really a Christian. She is of the unfortunate stripe of belief where if you don't believe exactly the way that she does, you're not 'really' a believer.

  3. I really think she's using her religious beliefs to cover up or give the OK for her personality flaws. Namely she is rude and needs a lesson in manners. What's the saying: "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all"? She could simply say hello to the lady and say, "oh, you're not wearing your glass today. Did you get contacts?" if she felt she must say *something*! No use speaking every little thing on your mind and showing the world how your mom and dad failed to teach you etiquette.

    Really I dont' think this has anything to do with her faith except demonstrating that she's not listening to the Holy Spirit. Yes, truth is good, but the Bible says speak truth in love. And I don't think telling someone you don't like their food choices or making rude comments needs to be said anyway.

    If she doesn't think you are a Christian,fine. Take her aside and say she is really giving you a bad impression of Christianity because her rudeness shows no love and you see more kindness among the "heathen" than from someone so proud that she is a follower of Christ.

    But then again some people are clueless and think insulting others is their duty in life. :-/

  4. Susanne,

    See, the thing is, I don't think she gets that she's doing it on purpose. I really, honestly believe that she thinks she's doing what is right. It's a combination of religion and what she was taught growing up, combined with her personality which is abrupt and abrasive sometimes.

    The food choice thing wasn't meant to reflect on her faith. I was just using it to say, she's rude, in general.

    Eh. I'm trying to get through to her slowly. She can be very nice too, sometimes.

  5. Ack... I hate it when people act like that. That and backhanded compliments are some of the things I really can't stand.

    Like Susanne said, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

    I'll pray you get through to her :)

  6. I have my doubts about that. She's fairly well set in her ways. But we'll see.


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