I have a big mouth, and lately it’s been getting me into lots of trouble. Last week, my friend and her husband were visiting my house for dinner, and while looking through old pictures, I noticed one of her husband from several years ago. He’d put on some weight since the picture was taken, and I blurted “Wow, you’ve really packed on the pounds since then.”
Little did I know, the man has some weight/self-esteem issues. He didn’t show his anger, but his wife told me later that he was very offended. She was mad at me too. I’ve always been big on honesty as the best policy, but maybe there’s a line I shouldn’t cross.
Then, a few days later, I managed to blurt out my honest opinion about my friend’s new haircut. She looked like Kate Gosselin on crack, and I told her so. I thought I was being funny, but it made her cry. Oops! Any tips on keeping my mouth shut?
— Mouth of the South
Honesty is generally the best policy, but you’ve got to maintain some tact as well. It’s all about balance.
For example, if your friend tries on a dress in the store, and she asks your opinion, it’s okay to tell her the dress makes her look like a frumpy, knocked-up housewife. But if your friend already owns such a dress, that comment’s not okay. She’s already paid for it. She obviously likes it, and that would probably hurt her feelings.
People love honesty, but only to a degree. No one wants to be told they’re fat. They already know they’re fat, and they’re either fine with it or they’ve got some serious esteem issues because of it. The key to shutting your big mouth is thinking before you speak. Imagine how what you say will make others feel.
It might help to assign yourself a punishment every time you blurt out things you shouldn’t. This will take a little self-discipline, and it sounds like you could use some.
For example, if you value your evening TV time, go a night without Glee every time you say something inappropriate. Or you could try going without dessert or skipping happy hour. It’s a little like being grounded, only you’re inflicting your own punishment. At the end of this exercise, you may have better luck zipping your lips.
Got a problem? E-mail Bianca at firstname.lastname@example.org.