Monday, May 05, 2008

Addendum from "What Does It Justice:" Endnote on Bluntness (Personal entry)

I did mean to mention this on my last note but it somehow slipped my mind. As long as someone is blunt while trying to be helpful, that's OK. (It helps if I'm made aware of this intention. Otherwise, I may not know if they're being blunt-but-helpful.)

Why I have long avoided blunt people back home was because I had to put up with blunt-and-hurtful people up until the end of high school. There were so many who were blunt-and-hurtful, I never thought to learn what the other kind of blunt (the helpful one) was like.

Back then, if someone was being blunt-but-helpful to me, I wouldn't assume anything better than that they were being too harsh, at least until I received their kinder side, then I might get a little confused but shrug it off. Occasionally I also learned sometime after that conversation that it was to help me in some way, but the bigger matter was I never got any warning beforehand so until I found out they were actually being helpful, you know how I felt.

Of course some teachers were pretty blunt, but in their bluntness they were being helpful too. However, I subconsciously thought that's just how teachers are, so I didn't quite think peers would be the same way; that they're either friendly or they're not.

Then came college. Thanks to a far greater diversity of students, I (naturally, of course) went to associate with the kinder kind of people. Oh, I'm sure the blunt-but-helpful guys also went to K-State, but I didn't choose to associate with them either because back then, I didn't differentiate between the hurtful and helpful blunt people as much as I do now.

Now that I hung out with the tactful peers most of the time, I only trained myself how to best intermingle with them, so while I advanced my social skills, you could say it was only with the kinds of people I hung out with most. I didn't quite prepare myself to take the heat from the blunter guys because the convenience was there- the convenience to simply hang out with the more tactful peers.

Then came my trip here. I was ill-prepared in some things (that I already covered, and some I haven't.) The tactful peers are now a minority, but Varner opened my eyes wider to the helpful blunt people. He did very well in that he warned me he was an up-front guy, in the helpful way.

If he hadn't, I would have reacted differently to him in some of the times that he spoke to me. I've met some other blunt people who are also being helpful, and thanks to his warning, I became aware on my own that they were being blunt-but-helpful too.

Armstrong and Wagner are some examples, because even though I could think of friendlier ways to bring the same point across, they've told me some helpful things. Although I'll have to be more careful about what to ask them and what-not, because some inquiries may drain their patience faster than others. (One night, they said I ask too many questions, but I had several drinks that night. I didn't seem to care how many and what questions I asked when drunk. I choose my questions more wisely when I'm sober.)

I can't count on people to warn that they're blunt while helpful, and Varner was the "exception to the rule," but now that I'm very much aware of this blunt helpfulness (or is the shorthand, "tough love," accurate?) I'll try to realize the best I can that someone's being helpful if they're blunt. If I can't tell whether it's hurtful or not, I'll probably run it by Garrett or people like him to have them analyze whether they were truly being hurtful, or helpful but understandably hard-to-tell.

If the other name for this is really "tough love," then I have heard of that expression, but probably haven't gotten enough of it myself firsthand, at least from other peers. Not at the magnitude I've been getting here, anyway.

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