Being Tactful

tact

Being tactful is getting to be a lost art, if you ask me.  It seems to me that people are much more apt to just say (or type) whatever comes to their mind without filtering anything or thinking about the potential consequences.  Not every thought is one that should be shared immediately or exactly the way it popped into our heads.

We’re now a society though where news is reported in little sound bites, articles are full of short one sentence paragraphs, we share lots of little details about our lives through social media, bashing someone through social media is pretty common, and most people feel like they need to express their every thought on every topic, even though they may not know that much about it.  It’s the norm for us to vocalize most of our thoughts right away, good or bad.

That can often lead to a lot of misunderstanding, hurt feelings, divisiveness, negative energy, misinformation, frustration, and so on.  It’s one thing to think you know what to say, but another to know when and how to say it.  Not everyone is open to constructive criticism or hearing other people’s opinions, so things have to be phrased very carefully.  Other people get very defensive if you challenge their opinions or ideas and even take it as a personal attack.  Some people are very easily offended these days, so there’s that too.  Or perhaps they over-interpret things and take things to the extreme.  There are plenty of other situations where being tactful would be beneficial.

It would be nice if there were not so much of a need to be tactful because people were more patient, were better listeners, were more open-minded, and had many other characteristics I have discussed in previous posts.  But that’s not the case, so it is to our benefit to try to be tactful whenever possible.  That requires thinking ahead though, which not everyone is willing to do.  And it requires trying to get your point across without making the other person feel like tuning out or coming back with an adversarial response.  Sometimes it doesn’t matter how tactful you are because of the person on the receiving end, but sometimes it can make a big difference.

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