Is there ever a way to deliver bad news to someone? For example, you get on an elevator and the person that’s on there has a real bad odor. Do you say anything? Is there a proper way to tell someone that they have bad body odor? You applied for a job and finally got a call inviting you to an interview. You get there and the interview starts. Suddenly, you realize that the person conducting the interview has some really bad halitosis. Are you allowed to tell them that their breath stink? Would you have the nerve, knowing that you may not get the position?
We all have been told that we should always tell the truth, but, is that really possible? Is it really ok to tell a lie? Some people say it is ok to tell a small white lie, but isn’t that a contradiction? Can you really have it both ways? Is not speaking up really an option? Is it a lie to not tell someone that their clothes are too small, when it’s really obvious? How do you determine when it’s ok to not tell the truth?
There is no road map available when it comes to traveling the righteous path. If you get asked that age old question, “does this dress make me look fat”, is it ok to lie and say no? Or are you obligated to tell the truth, knowing it’s going to hurt someone’s feelings?
I, personally, don’t think it’s possible to always tell the truth. Tact is such a powerful, and necessary, part of a person’s arsenal. Knowing when to speak out about a situation, and when to keep quiet or to deflect the conversation to another topic is critical to social etiquette.
This is even more important when you are at work. In the situation where one of your coworkers wears too much perfume or cologne, do you say something to them directly or do you tell management? Some would say it depends on how close you are with your coworker. You could tell them as a way of a warning that there are probably people with odor sensitivities that may be affected by the overwhelming smell. But if you are not that familiar with the offender, then to avoid any possible conflict it would be advised to talk to a manager or supervisor and have them handle the situation.
So the takeaway from this post, if there is one, is to remember that although you were told throughout all your childhood and young adult life to always tell the truth, it’s just not possible to always tell the truth. Sometimes you have to either not say anything, or to tell that little white lie. You have to look at all of the aspects of the particular situation before determining how to proceed. You have to take into account the possible fallout from your decision. You have to look at your relationship to the person that you would have to talk to or interact with and whether you feel it could sustain some brutal truthfulness.