Does Tact = Deception?


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I've always wondered about this.  But when I bring it up, I think people get the wrong impression.

I understand the idea "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."  That is simply "not speaking." I can always choose to not engage.  But then I've found myself accused of being passive aggressive or some similar/related descriptor.

But when I've been given examples of saying some things tactfully, there is always some deception involved.  I've really tried to understand this concept, but I just don't.

Example: A woman is very unattractive no matter what she does.  She asks if this dress goes with her features.  A simple yes or no would be accurate.  Simply saying, "No, you really won't look attractive no matter what you put on" is really rude and uncalled for.  But the example I was given was to suggest another dress and say, "That one makes you even more beautiful."  It didn't.  So, wouldn't that be a lie?

First, it didn't make her look any more beautiful.  Second, it implies that she is already beautiful, which she wasn't.

Now, there are some statements that can be taken either way.  I've found this to be the best way to get through it without lying.  If they took it the bad way, that was up to them.  If they took it the good way, that was up to them.  But I can't always figure out a good way to do that in many situations.  So, what am I supposed to do?

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It depends. If you want to be listened to and taken seriously, you need to use some manners and basic politeness. If you don’t care how others view you and like being known as a rude and nasty, then knock yourself out and “keep it real”.

 

Obviously, if you are with friends you can bust chops and let your hair down.  But I don’t recommend walking up to the relief society president and telling her how fat and stupid she is. Even if it’s “accurate.” 

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I’ve also noticed that people who love to be rude and abrasive collapse into jelly when someone uses their own tone against them. Almost like they are so arrogant they think they can judge everyone but they cry like babies when someone punches back. 
 

That’s true with the bullies you encounter in 5th grade, 12th grade, and age 34. 

Edited by LDSGator
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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, ZealoulyStriving said:

Kindness > Unrestrained Honesty

I'm not trying to be a smart aleck when I ask:  does this mean that I should lie to spare someone's feelings?  I can't go along with that. 

I can remain silent and shrug my shoulders.  But I can't lie about something when someone asks me a direct question.  I could even refer them to someone else to get a different opinion instead of voicing mine.  But I'm not going to lie.

When really pressed and when they specifically want an opinion from me, I'll tell them, "I don't think I'm the best person to ask."  If they press, "You realize that I'm not going to give you an answer you like."  That usually puts people off and they don't press for the answer.

But I've also found some people get offended at that reticence to simply tell the truthful answer to the question they directly posed to me.

Edited by Carborendum
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1 minute ago, Carborendum said:

I'm not trying to be a smart aleck when I ask:  does this mean that I should lie to spare someone's feelings?  I can't go along with that. 

I can remain silent and shrug my shoulders.  But I can't lie about something when someone asks me a direct question.  I could even refer them to someone else to get a different opinion instead of voicing mine.  But I'm not going to lie.

Nothing wrong with that as long as you accept the same behavior from everyone else. If you want to put tact on the side that’s fine, but you lose the right to complain if someone gives you the same attitude.  

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41 minutes ago, Carborendum said:

Example: A woman is very unattractive no matter what she does.  She asks if this dress goes with her features.  A simple yes or no would be accurate

Using your example- you can still be truthful. Does the dress go with the "feature" of her eye color? Her hair? If you try hard enough you can find a way to be positive. I think too many people- not saying you- don't want to be bothered to invest time in other people to find ways they can be kind. We need to work on that.

 

Side note: I think the teaching of hyper-honesty is a little off. The Lord counseled Abraham to lie (by omission) about Sarah being his sister. David feigned being crazy to avoid Philistine wrath. The Nephites gave Lamanites guards wine that had been "fortified" more than it's normal strength to cause them to pass out. These are just a few examples of scriptural "good guys" being misleading.

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God does the same.

Ether 3:12 And he answered: Yea, Lord, I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie.

D&C 19:7 Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory.

Luke 9:44 Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men.  45 But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying.

 

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The other interesting thing about this topic?
 

I’ve rarely seen someone’s life improve after they decided to become more blunt. Usually your life gets better when you try to use more restraint. I’m sure there is someone out there who became more blunt and tactless and improved their life-but the overwhelming majority of us moments where we wish we acted with more manners, not less. 

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I have come to the conclusion that people have different personality types.   Even within a particular type there can be a spectrum of variance.  I think this is one of many reasons that there are communication problems.  I looks to me that @Carborendum kinds of falls in a similar personality type that I do.  It is a type that is logical –we make really good engineers and really bad customer relationship (sales) people.

I am very lucky because I married the polar opposite personality type that is able to cover for most of my relationship blunders.  I will give an example:  I ask a new member of our Elder’s quorum to lead the discussion topic recently.  After priesthood I was with my wife and the good brother’s wife joined him.  Since we were all close, she turned to me and asked how her husband did with the lesson.  I responded very truthfully and said that he did much better than I expected.  My wife stepped in and said that my response is as high of a complement as I ever give – that it must have been really good.  Later she explained to me that most people would take my complement negatively – that I would assume that they would do terrible.   I should just say he did a good job.  I attempted to explain that I expected a typical good job but he had done better.  She reminded me that it was not what I said.

In general, I think those of us that have the gift of logic and love using it to express what we think is true can never quite say the right thing to the types that “follow their heart” and live off their feelings.  Attempts to connect on our level or theirs is just not going to happen very often – never without some spiritual help from above.

 

The Traveler

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Posted (edited)
20 minutes ago, ZealoulyStriving said:

Using your example- you can still be truthful. Does the dress go with the "feature" of her eye color? Her hair?

To clarify, "features" was my way of short-handing a variety of ways that females may ask about their appearance.  So, no, I can't.

20 minutes ago, ZealoulyStriving said:

The Lord counseled Abraham to lie (by omission) about Sarah being his sister.

Just as I said, I can be silent.  I can re-direct.  I can simply NOT speak.  I've already learned and accepted this lesson.

20 minutes ago, ZealoulyStriving said:

David feigned being crazy to avoid Philistine wrath.

The Nephites gave Lamanites guards wine that had been "fortified" more than it's normal strength to cause them to pass out.

These fall under the war exception:

Quote

...therefore he thought it no sin that he should defend them by stratagem...

Clearly when "Thou shalt not kill" is a more important commandment than "thou shalt not bear false witness."

I'd say defending one's life is also more important than bearing false witness.

My question is not about war.  It is not a matter of life and death.

Scriptures show examples where people could die if the murderous people would obtain their design if they told the truth.  So, yes, lying is warranted.  But you're trying to extend this line of logic to "avoid hurting someone's feelings" when simple silence will do?  Why should I feel compelled to speak a lie because of someone's feelings, when I can simply stay silent?

I also don't accept your terminology "Hyper-honesty."   What is that supposed to mean? 

"Don't lie unless you have to."  Well, what defines "have to"?

Edited by Carborendum
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8 minutes ago, Carborendum said:

To clarify, "features" was my way of short-handing a variety of ways that females may ask about their appearance. 

Why the heck is any female other than your wife and daughters asking you about their appearance?  And if they are, why isn't your standard response something like, "I only discuss such things with my wife and daughters."?

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10 minutes ago, Traveler said:

In general, I think those of us that have the gift of logic and love using it to express what we think is true can never quite say the right thing to the types that “follow their heart” and live off their feelings.  Attempts to connect on our level or theirs is just not going to happen very often – never without some spiritual help from above.

While I am glad to be part of the club, I have to admit that I'm not the most logical person in the world.

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, zil2 said:

Why the heck is any female other than your wife and daughters asking you about their appearance?  And if they are, why isn't your standard response something like, "I only discuss such things with my wife and daughters."?

That was just an example that everyone could relate to.  And it was a "less attractive" roommate of a girl I was picking up for a date.

 ... to be clear: it was before I was married.

Edited by Carborendum
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3 minutes ago, zil2 said:

Why the heck is any female other than your wife and daughters asking you about their appearance?  And if they are, why isn't your standard response something like, "I only discuss such things with my wife and daughters."?

I’ve had female friends ask me about their new hairstyles, if they look like they’ve lost weight, etc. It’s not common but it has happened. 

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Just now, zil2 said:

A married co-worker once asked me what I thought of his new facial hair style - not unlike this one:

ac335f3a38fc04753ab76ad6defd7476.jpg

I told him his wife was the only person allowed to have an opinion and hers counted for more than his own.

The image appears to be broken.  My guess, the new site improvements.

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1 minute ago, Carborendum said:

The image appears to be broken.  My guess, the new site improvements.

It's an external image, so maybe from a domain your filters don't allow.  It's a dude with a full beard and a handlebar mustache - you know, with the curled up ends.  Honestly, the dude at work (who was about my age, maybe a little older) had even more of a curl to his mustache - it reminded me of Salvador Dali, only fuller.

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11 minutes ago, zil2 said:

It's an external image, so maybe from a domain your filters don't allow.  It's a dude with a full beard and a handlebar mustache - you know, with the curled up ends.  Honestly, the dude at work (who was about my age, maybe a little older) had even more of a curl to his mustache - it reminded me of Salvador Dali, only fuller.

You realize that your example was simply the "avoidance" that I described that I feel like I have to do.  You did not lie.  That is what I am advocating.  And if I could be as good at it as you are, then I'd find that to be a good solution.

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3 minutes ago, Carborendum said:

You realize that your example was simply the "avoidance" that I described that I feel like I have to do.  You did not lie.  That is what I am advocating.  And if I could be as good at it as you are, then I'd find that to be a good solution.

I don't know that I was good at it, and in my mind at the time, I wasn't avoiding anything, just speaking the truth.  It is my firm belief that the person who has to kiss the lips hidden inside all that hair gets all the say over whether the hair exists.  Other than that, I couldn't care less what dude did with his facial hair.  FWIW, dude wasn't pleased that I wasn't praising his magnificent 'stache. :rolleyes:

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1 minute ago, zil2 said:

I don't know that I was good at it, and in my mind at the time, I wasn't avoiding anything, just speaking the truth.  It is my firm belief that the person who has to kiss the lips hidden inside all that hair gets all the say over whether the hair exists.  Other than that, I couldn't care less what dude did with his facial hair.  FWIW, dude wasn't pleased that I wasn't praising his magnificent 'stache. :rolleyes:

You may not care.  But you clearly didn't find it to be a pleasing feature.

1 minute ago, zil2 said:

I avoid these problems by avoiding humans - problem solved. :D

Yeah, that's not always an option.  Although, my current job makes it a lot easier.

But then, there's church.  I avoid humans a lot.  But then people think I'm being anti-social... which is true... and so???

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Here's another perspective:  I've been reading a book by Robert Greene: 48 Laws of Power.

It sounds like a good commentary on the human condition.  There are certain dynamics of human behavior that are not intuitive for a person like me.  But once someone points it out, then it makes all the sense in the world.

The more I read it, the more I get convinced of a few things.

  • This is really a "how to" book on manipulating people.
  • This is how virtually everyone behaves.
  • This is exactly why people "lie to be nice."

It isn't drawing a very nice picture of how noble "lying to be nice" is.  Instead, it seems to be sociopathic or narcissistic.  At the same time, virtually anyone in history uses these specific methods to gain power and are praised by history as people of great achievement and hailed as noble figures.  Meanwhile, Almost all of those who are ignorant of this end up dying in ruins.  

This, in addition to a lot of people encouraging me to "lie to be nice" isn't painting a great picture of humanity.

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