Being honest and being considered as rude - A dilemma
I am new to the stoic idea of living. From what I have read till now in Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, it seems that Honesty (towards others and to yourself) is at the core of stoicism.
But when I am being honest with my friends or my family, I usually come up as rude. This then turns into a quarrel. It happens a lot. Like. For example, my friend asked me to help him with this work-thing the other day. I told him that “I can’t, because I need rest now” I didn’t say anything else because this was all there was to say. And I don't know but he seemed mad at me.
I am ok with him being mad at me, but I just wanna know how to be honest while being polite.
Rudeness can emerge, I find, from the unsaid phrase that the perceiver of rudeness supplied themself. You said, "I can't, because I need rest now," but your friend read, "I can't, because I need rest now, but if you were more important to me, I'd skip rest and help you." And they summarily found you guilty of rudeness. They also likely felt you took pleasure in refusing their request, because you didn't express regret. Better to say, "I apologize—I can't. I'm sorry. But please let me know if there is anything else I can do." And then refuse that "anything else" if you need to, too, the same way—apologetically and regretfully.
Sometimes being honest will come as offensive not because of you but because of how the other person receives your words.
Sometimes people need to hear exactly what they don't want to hear in order to become better. I would say to remain honest, but pick your talks and the moments you say what you need to say because sometimes a straight opinion is not needed.
All the best to you!
I once read something that went something like, "everybody wants to be brutally honest, but where is clever honesty? Compassionate honesty? Empowering honesty". And I agree, somewhat. The wisdom is not in honesty, it's in how we word what we say, and when we say it.
Ultimately, how people take what we say is also important, because person A will take the same thing person B reacted negatively to in a positive manner. And that is completely outside your control, especially after what is said is said.
How they respond after that is their business.
Some of the lessons I've learned in life and through stoicism:
My opinion isn't that important and neither is anyone else's.
If someone hasn't asked for my opinion or advice don't offer it unless the timing is right and it's warranted.
Is what you have to say worth saying or should it be left unsaid especially if it's causing problems.
sometimes some people aren't really asking for help or advice if there is an answer they won't like. That isn't your problem.
I think it's always better to just have more sympathy for the other side. You could have said instead, “Hey I’m sorry but I just don’t feel up to it right now, I need to get some rest. Can I help later?” Accomplishes the same thing and you’re staying honest with your friend, but it also shows you care about their circumstance too.