Subtlety is a way of avoiding conflict. It’s looking to the side, instead of staring back into the eyes of the beast, whatever the beast is. Subtlety allows us to avoid confrontation. It lets us skirt verbal tussles, with words that remain unspoken but largely understood.
Our children quickly learn to study our faces, watch our body language, and understand when we are in a good mood, and when we are serious about not hitting that drum one more time.
SUBTLETY often results from a person lacking the confidence to state plainly what they want. Rather than say what they want explicitly, they soft peddle their wishes, and end up short of their goal. Whether you are dealing with a plumber, a lawyer, a doctor, or a carpenter, you have to be willing to say “hey, that’s not what I wanted you to do,” if that expresses your desires. Don’t be subtle. Don’t drop hints. Say it, whatever “it” is.
Subtlety about matters of the heart can be counterproductive, too. Don’t assume your loved ones know you love them. Did you tell them recently? It’s the rare person who gets tired of being told they are loved. “Oh, my kids know I love them,” you might say. Yes, but we all need and want reassurance. If there’s one thing this life has taught me, it’s that we are all merely overgrown children, still needing the same things we needed as children. We want someone to be proud of us. We want someone to cheer for us. We want someone to kiss our bobos, to comfort us when we are disheartened.
LOVE OF family is the bedrock of a life worth living. Loving your family and telling them you love them is essential to making that bedrock a solid foundation for life. That love should reach out in all directions — to parents, to children, to siblings, to aunts, to uncles, to cousins, to grand parents, to exes.
We all have things we want to say that we avoid saying directly. We don’t wish to hurt someone’s feelings. We are afraid we might upset someone and create a bigger problem. We figure, perhaps rightly, that it will make matters worse, not better. All those can be true, and if we determine that such is the case, we should not bring up the topic. If you don’t want to address the topic, then don’t hint at it, either. That’s where most of us go astray. We can’t just leave something alone, so we make subtle comments that suggest we have an underlying opinion that differs from the one we claim to espouse.
Be direct with those you deal with. Don’t be subtle. If you believe some topic should be left unsaid, then leave it unsaid. But if it needs saying, spell it out, in plain words.
© 2009, Pappy Moore, All Rights Reserved.
Pappy Moore is a humorist, a native son of East Texas who still makes the piney woods his home.
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