Re: PSYCHOLOGY: Politeness in Communication

Mark Grant (
Sun, 19 Jan 1997 18:35:09 +0000

On Sat, 18 Jan 1997, David Musick wrote:

> As for the meme, "You shouldn't offend people."; perhaps it should be
> qualified, to say, "You shouldn't offend people, if your intent is to develop
> a healthy relationship with them." Whether you should offend people or not
> depends on your goals. Since I am very interested in developing healthy,
> supportive relationships with many people, I am careful not to say or do
> things which I believe will be offensive to those I am dealing with.

Well, this is interesting, because I've just been reading Maslow talking
about "no crap therapy" and how effective it was in dealing with drug

"... the kind of experience that you are having here indicates
that not only can people take honesty, but also that it may
be very helpful, very therapeutic. It may move things faster.
This is true even when the honesty hurts."[1]

And I agree entirely. To me, a healthy relationship with someone is a
relationship where we can both be honest with each other and neither has
to pussy-foot around trying to avoid the other's psychological buttons.
What is healthy about a relationship where people habitually lie to
each other?

True, I'm still careful about what I say to people who I don't know
very well, but that's because dishonesty has become the standard in this
society and I don't have much choice if I want to get along with
people in general. But I'd much rather spend my time with people who
are strong enough to deal with reality and will force me to do the same. I
find such company extremely refreshing.

In particular, if there's something about me that annoys someone I like,
then I would like them to tell me so that I can fix it, not spend six
months skirting around the issue so as not to "offend" me. That does
include not being honest with them if they really dislike it, but having
to do so will dramatically lower my opinion of them.


[1] Abraham Maslow, "The farther reaches of human nature", page 217

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