WITH age comes feistiness – and the propensity to say what you think, rather than what you feel you should say.
While I am a big fan of straight talking, as there’s nothing worse than two-faced folk who say one thing to your face and an entirely different one behind your back, there are occasions where it is important to filter what comes out of your mouth. Only the very old and the very young can truly get away with being blunt and have their forthrightness laughed off. The rest of us mere mortals are far too worried about appearing to be rude. But sometimes, it’s not just a fear of being impolite that makes us bite our tongue or tell little fibs, but a well-meaning desire to spare someone’s feelings. Sometimes it’s better not to say anything than to say something that will cause another one hurt.
Let’s face it; we all do it. When you open that hideous Christmas present from your gran, do you shout: “Oh gross, this yellow cardigan is vile!” or do you smile sweetly and say: “Thanks grandma, it’s lovely.”
The truth is that the truth sometimes hurts, so it’s often better to tell a barefaced lie than risk making someone feel bad. According to various studies, men lie a lot more than women – but we’re far better at it as we’re a lot more convincing.
Men tend to lie to climb up the career ladder, while women are more likely to fib to gain social status. But in my own experience, us girls usually lie through our teeth to save crushing someone’s feelings. Basically, most women are people pleasers and don’t like to hurt the feelings of others. I once watched with wonder when a friend bumped into someone she knew on a night out and greeted her with a hug and an enthusiastic: “It’s so lovely to see you” followed by a panicked: “We must catch up for a drink sometime” on departing. “I thought you couldn’t stand her” I hissed when her acquaintance had gone. “I can’t.” she replied. “But I can hardly tell her I’d sooner stop in and wash my hair than go for a drink with her!” One of my friends, who has been a vegetarian for years, told how she once went to a boyfriend’s house for tea and forced herself to eat lamb stew, as she didn’t want to upset his mum who’d been slaving in the kitchen to produce it. For years, one of hubby’s grandmas would present me with a box of chocolates every Christmas and tell me: “Now, I checked with the shop and they’re definitely suitable for vegetarians and vegans, so they should be OK with you.” Every year, I’d thank her profusely, not wanting to hurt her feelings by telling her I wasn’t a veggie and that I’d scoff any choccie going, even if it was filled with corned beef.
Our daughter Yasmin has no such qualms about correcting people when they get her name wrong. People often call her Jasmine instead of Yasmin, but each time, she pipes up: “It’s Yasmin with a ‘Y’ not with a ‘J’. And it doesn’t have an ‘e’ on the end either.”