The conversation was collegial, except for a singular point. I would like to say that I saw it coming. I did not. There was no hint or indicator that I was aware of. My answer, wrapped in as much diplomacy as I could muster, was met with an affirming volley of emotional bluntness. Given that we were violently agreeing, I guess you could suggest that it was still collegial, however at the time it did not feel that way! It was as if I was under attack even as the words and sentiment confirmed my politically correct observation.
I often find it hard to know convey difficult facts. In this particular case, I was on the receiving end of a barrage that left me quietly agreeing while wondering if there was a better (kinder) way of sharing the conversation. It is ironic that I was receiving what I often give to others. Facts are facts. How we receive them and in turn what we hear is often quite different.
In the cool of a quiet morning I find myself wondering what drives otherwise calm, measured individuals to be direct and blunt? When I read an old writer let loose, “Some are left out, and go home hungry. Others have to be carried out, too drunk to walk. I can’t believe it! Don’t you have your own homes to eat and drink in?” (1 Corinthians 11.21) I realize there must be a time and place for a verbal barrage.
In my case, I was unprepared, mentally or physically. I came away from the conversation tired and uninspired. As I recharge my soul to face the day, I am certain you and I can be better! We can reach for clarity without resorting to brutal methods. We can be blunt in a way that is also compassionate. It will not always be obvious. I am also certain that I will often fail in my aspirations. The results of another’s bluntness remind me that the quest is worthy of our efforts. Facts never justify methods. We can do more.