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I would love the patient of a saint. It would be a characteristic could be humbly proud of (it is possible), but of late I find that my patience patina is wearing thin. I shan’t go into why, but suffice to say the expression ‘gritted teeth’ comes to mind because – I think I’m gritting my teeth. Nevertheless, I am trying to keep my counsel because of the relationships involved and the potentially negative and expensive consequences of just telling it like it is.

Which raises the question – is it better to be completely open to the point of bluntness (that’s an oxymoron if ever I wrote one), or hold back because one isn’t walking in the shoes of the people who ‘need telling’? The former approach could be said to be the most honest, but the latter the more respectful. A principled decision is called for in every different case.

There is no blanket strategy. You might argue that there is but have you ever opted for a specific approach only to discover that the facts and assessments that led you to use it – were wrong?

The only advice I can give – and which I would dearly love to consistently apply myself – would be to us the space between stimulus and response to really, conscientiously dig deeply into the situation, and act accordingly. Think broadly and deeply – what do you know, what do you think you know and can find out, and what is the situation as seen from the other side. Just asking those questions can truly serve your strategy for dealing with the event.

But there is another assessment I would invite you to consider.

If your selected approach requires careful wording and you can’t think of the words – consider letting it go.

It is easy to think you’re using the right words only to wonder why the other person didn’t hear what you said, but instead heard what they decided you meant and the situation worsened rather than improved.

And here’s the rub – sometimes they won’t tell you what they thought they heard; instead, they’ll go off and report their inaccuracy to someone else, and it all goes Pete Tong. Of course, that ‘someone else’ will be their friend, therefore on their side by default. They rarely go to an objective listener.

This whole idea is a ‘soft skill’ that requires wisdom, considered thinking and occasionally resignation to a situation.

Which means being willing to surrender, to leave things as they are while mitigating the potential risks of staying silent on the matter.

Which is bloody stressful, my teeth can tell you. Ask my dentist.

For more on good Character as a specific, rather than accidental life choice, read The Three Resolutions.