If you feel, on occasion, you cannot in all honesty say something helpful and encouraging, then by all means say nothing or tell a merciful fib. Unless you work for the Department of Bridge and Tunnel Safety or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, there is no need for you to point out every little flaw you detect in what you’ve been invited to look at. The owner or creator of the object in question is already aware of its tiniest flaws.
For instance if a woman of advanced age is so hungry for compliments she has to ask, “Do I look okay?” you should realize she’s really asking, “Besides some obvious imperfections, how do I look?” For heaven’s sake, be kind!
The world does not need more “Inspector Generals”. You know the type, the fellow you invited to your barbecue who spends the afternoon commenting on your crab grass and maligning your marigolds. He doesn’t think highly of your barbecue sauce either. If it wasn’t for your wife’s intervention you might have added something to his salad dressing that would have kept him very active for a couple of hours.
Some I.G.’s feel they must call attention to every defect they see or the world will miss an opportunity to get closer to perfect. “Well, you wanted an honest answer, didn’t you?” they ask after giving a devastating opinion. The fact is, most of us don’t want a completely honest answer.
I once spent a sweaty weekend building a toolshed and, in a weak moment, asked an I.G. what he thought of it. Instead of beginning with a complimentary remark or being noncommital, he had to point out, “There’s no doorway in your toolshed. How are you supposed to get in?”
Of course I was aware of the absent doorway. It was one of those bugs I had to work on. I wasn’t looking for his negative comment. I just needed a little encouragement after 16 hours of sawing, hammering, nailing and swearing. Instead I got his unfair criticism.
Unfair, because it wasn’t my fault. I’d missed “Doorways Week” in manual training when I had the Chicken Pox. On the other hand I got a B+ in both “Windows” and “Gutters”.
I.G.’s think they’re the only ones capable of noticing the obvious and will ask hurtful questions like, “Say, do you know you’re getting quite bald?” and “Have you noticed how badly the paint is peeling off your house?”
But enough is enough. I’ll end here. There’s something ironic about a blog that criticizes the critics. By the way, what do you think of this blog?