Bluntness is not Rudeness

Mindful communication needs to focus on the essential

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

The worst thing we can tell a fellow human is that they do not interest us.

This simple and seemingly innocuous dismissal is an act of unspeakable cruelty toward another. And yet, it is so ubiquitous and endemic to our self-serving culture that we commit it daily without second thoughts.

But we go at it in a sly, perfidious, and dehumanizing way by pretending to care all the better to despise, belittle, and humiliate.

We do this for our own benefit; it’s not that we feel for the person we’re dismissing or are loath to offend them. Rather, we don’t want our peers to think less of us for harboring such unkind views.

This happens every day online, with humans pitching themselves against one another and taking sides.

Instead of listening, we express opinions without even pausing to analyze situations, motives, or agendas and we forget there is a human being behind every pixels and data packets presence.

In an age when stating facts and sharing beliefs can result in brutal bullying, no wonder many of us act so cowardly. Plainly put, we lack the courage to communicate effectively in a way that would honor our shared humanness.

That many of us choose to live in comfortable echo chambers out of self-interest does little to advance the global conversation.

The worst thing we can tell a fellow human is that they do not interest us.

Others do not exist for our own advancement nor are they commodities for us to avail ourselves of. No life has more value than any other, regardless of a human’s bank balance. And yet, how many of us let our earnings and possessions define us?

How many of us look down on those who don’t enjoy the same privileges as we do?

How many of us no longer see a human in the homeless person in the street?

How many of us lack the emotional intelligence to understand this homeless person could be us under different parameters?

Call it empathy, call it fellow feeling, call it basic human decency; it is what holds society together but it can’t exist without respect for the whole spectrum of humanity.

Not everything or everyone will awaken or stimulate our curiosity, this is natural and not a cause for concern.

But conflating a person with their words and actions and dismissing the whole package amounts to denying their humanness.

And makes us all a little less human in the process, too.

The worst thing we can tell a fellow human is that they do not interest us.

Language is a precise tool and many of us are careless with it; we use text speak and abbreviations out of convenience both in speech and print.

When someone offers us the gift of attention by engaging with us directly or indirectly, the least we can do is hear them out before responding. And if their message doesn’t resonate and we derive no value from it, it’s OK to say so in a dispassionate, non-judgmental way.

“What you are saying does not interest me,” cuts through artifice and saves time, that way both parties can move on to other things with no hard feelings.

Similarly, we don’t have to have an opinion or know about everything.

Then again, how many of us are honest and blunt enough to say so?

Were we to embrace bluntness as a default, we could do away with second-guessing and assuming altogether.

Instead, we would get into the habit of seeking clarification and asking questions again, much as we always did when we were kids.

The worst thing we can tell a fellow human is that they do not interest us.

By doing so, we assert superiority over another by declaring their person undeserving of our attention.

Absent shared societal values that rest on the dual principle of equality and solidarity, we let our enormous egos take over. As a result, our exchanges are little more than shouting matches in thrall to power dynamics, a phenomenon made worse by social media.

Be it willingly or subconsciously, we isolate ourselves further by refusing to entertain other points of view.

Other experiences; other ways of life…

We learn nothing, we complain about being lonely, we sink deeper into solipsism. And because we have nothing of interest to say, we cling to clichés and recycled opinions.

We no longer know how to engage in critical thinking nor even what it is; we no longer know to be among others.

Saying what we mean and meaning what we say can change that.

What’s bluntness but a mindful way to communicate by focusing on the essential?

I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor living out of a suitcase in transit between North America and Europe. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.

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