Springingtiger's Blog

Silence is Golden

Sometimes honesty is not the best policy, I am not advocating dishonesty, but, rather, silence. It is so easy to cause offence with a well meaning comment that sometimes it is safer to say nothing, particularly when people are at the effect of their unrestrained emotions.

I remember once in response to someone’s bereavement, I responded, “People die” and was accused of being insensitive. I tried to explain myself by pointing out that, “Everyone you know will die or is dead, everyone you will ever know will die, you will die, everyone will die”, which I thought put things in perspective, but instead I found myself vilified. Apparently the appropriate response is, “Sorry for your loss” which, as far as I can tell, is meaningless as one can’t be sorry for someone else’s loss unless, perhaps, one caused it.

Personally I think sorry is a word used so frequently and glibly it is largely meaningless. Recently I was told of an organisational document on how to apologise, it talked about expressing a sincere apology. I saw a flaw and asked how one could issue a sincere apology if one did not feel sorry. This is an issue for me because if I don’t feel sorry, I cannot say I am as it feels like a lie, worse still is when I say I’m sorry and immediately follow it with, “I’m not really” and then when asked why I said I was sorry, I have to explain that I was told to. When I was being assessed before my Asperger’s diagnosis, whether I would feel happy for someone who had just had some good fortune, I found the question difficult because, as I said, “one can’t feel for someone else, one can only feel for oneself. I am practicing using the expression I mentioned earlier, “I am sorry for your loss”, because everyone knows it is merely a social expression and implies no actual feeling or regret.

I have often been told to put myself in someone else’s shoes which means to feel what they feel. As I always say  I have enough problems trying to understand what I feel without trying to undying how someone else feels, besides I would just be making it up; I think my ability to say the wrong thing at the wrong time shows that I probably neither think nor feel quite as others do. Of course if the people I offend could put themselves in my shoes, they would realise that it is not I who am causing it. Until they do it remains advisable to, as far as possible, avoid conversation.


2 Comments so far
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I hope you won’t do that. Understanding that there are differences in how we think and see the world and working around that, so that no offense is taken when none is intended seems a more desirable outcome.

Also it is entirely possible that people who express their condolences are sincerely feeling sorrow for the other person’s loss.

Comment by Kim Wombles

It is very tiring trying to handle people’s emotions, not to mention confusing. I don’t see how anyone can feel for another I particularly don’t understand how anyone can know how another feels, I do accept that expressions of condolence are made with a positive intention.

Comment by springingtiger

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