No, this isn’t scrib about the pair of pants you left in the dryer!
It’s actually wondering, which I’ve been doing a lot lately, about what seem to be key—and in some cases, embarrassingly obvious—elements in human chemistry that other people possess, yet I lack. I’m beginning to think Nature shorted me several genes in there that she gave other people, and I can’t help but wonder why.
The tact gene.
I never cease to marvel at the people I know who seem to edge into tactful behavior as naturally as breathing. While I struggle to keep my eyes from rolling into the back of my head, and bite my tongue to keep from saying the things I desperately want to say, these people find the exact right words to convey the same thing nicely.
Not that this effort doesn’t occasionally backfire, of course. If you’re trying to tell someone, prior to their going out the door, that lime-green and pomegranate together in the same outfit might cause onloookers fits of nausea, framing it in terms of their “unique use of wardrobe color” isn’t going to serve anyone. What’s worse, later on, some of these people will come back and say, “For Pete’s sake, why didn’t you tell me how awful I looked?”
But how to say it? Aye, there’s the rub.
I’ve always been in favor of “direct” as a communication style. This doesn’t mean “brutal” (we all know someone who thinks of herself as “brutally honest” when, in fact, she’s cruel and insulting); it just means, “The message I intend you to get, I don’t want you to miss.” To me, it’s way more loving to “speak slowly and use small words,” even if those words might sound brusque or harsh, than to risk the message going completely over their heads.
Yet I wonder if that’s not a weakness on my part. A way I just didn’t completely “grow up” and learn how to “talk nice.” When I see so much overwhelming evidence around me of people who seem to be able to frame “Your son is a terrorist” into “My, he truly seems absorbed in something way bigger than he is”…I wonder.
Tact’s not the only thing I figure I missed out on early in the Dishing Out Lovely Attributes department. I’ll get to a few more of them in the next post. In the meantime…