Do you determine truthfulness through words, or actions?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by wegs, Aug 23, 2016.

  1. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    We've all uttered this sentence from time to time, ''I judge people by their actions, not by their words.''

    But, do we?

    I ask this because one of my friends right now has a friendship with someone who from an outsider's viewpoint, is very damaging to her life.

    This friend of hers will tell her all kinds of thoughtful comments, ''I'm so glad we are friends,'' or ''I love you like a sister,'' but then she will betray my friend's confidence in a variety of ways. My friend will often vent to me, asking for my advice, and I've said to her numerous times ''You should judge the friendship by her actions, not her words.'' My friend usually agrees, goes silent with her other friend for a while, until that friend apologizes to her, promising to never betray their friendship, again.

    Rinse and repeat this strange cycle, for nearly a year, now.

    It is easy for me to say what I'd do - end this crazy-making friendship, and block this person, forever. But, that is because I tend to determine someone's truthfulness based on actions, not mere words. But, I think that if we're honest, how many of us have overlooked behaviors of others, people who are treating us terribly, and still want so badly to believe that the person really cares about us, because of their words? All it takes is an easy apology on some days, and we are right back to where we were, accepting the doormat role once again.

    This of course isn't relegated to personal ''ships,'' but it can be said for how we're treated at work by our boss or coworkers. Words mean a lot, but actions will always speak louder. Then, why do we often find ourselves in the predicament that my friend finds herself in?

    Do you tend to determine truthfulness based on people's words or their actions? We are what we do, not what we say we will do. Do you believe that what we do in life, has far greater impact than what we say?



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  3. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    actions

    ......................................
    that being keyboarded in:
    Many psychology experiments seem to suggest that most people would prefer to listen to and follow the best lyer.

    .............
    personally
    tell me no secrets
     
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  5. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    Actions while realizing that no one is perfect and all relationships require some understanding and acceptance of another's flaws. It's just a matter of degree as to when the bad outweighs the good.

    It's usually an easy decision as to when to cut bait however. If your gut feeling is that it's not a fulfilling relationship then move on.
     
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  7. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    So true! It seems that way especially coming up on a Presidential election. Who to believe? Both seem equally ''bad'' choices for the US, but if that's all we got, then who to believe...most?

    If I had a dime for every man who has whispered sweet nothings to me, but whose actions were not sweet at all, I'd be very wealthy. For me personally, I've often been taken by words over actions, because I'm one of those people who give others the benefit of the doubt. So, with the example of my friend, I see much of myself in her, and it's hard to watch.
     
  8. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    This is excellent advice, but it's often not an easy decision to ''cut bait'', you are very fortunate, if this comes easy to you.

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  9. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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  10. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    With age it has become easier.

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    When I was married I had several friends that I had little in common with and they were mainly just annoying and caused a lot of drama. There were nice enough and were friendly when I was new at work. I appreciated it and was friendly back.

    After I got divorced and made new friends who I had more in common with I gradually distanced myself from them and didn't make any more friends with so little in common.

    When I was married I didn't need friends as much and didn't spend as much time with them so it was more of a bearable situation. When I had more free time it wasn't.

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  11. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    It's very easy to believe - and very hard to resist, flattery, praise, endearment, encouragement - validation of any kind. It's what we look for in friends and allies, what we need them for. If they tell us we're better than we think we are, or more likely to prevail, we want to believe them. When they fail to come through with practical support, we want to forgive them - especially if the excuses and apologies come with more stroking: "You know I would have come to your exhibition if I could! The whole time, stuck in that strategy meeting, I was thinking of you. Etc." (He went drinking with another buddy.)
    At the same time, such a friend has no compunction about asking you to drive him across town, or give him an alibi, or do his research for a paper, or sit up all night listening to his woes.
    We try hard not to see the contradictions and evasions. We try hard not to resent the impositions. Long before we have unavoidable proof of their deceitfulness, we know, really: the gut knows.

    So, take the gut test of a relationship. SH called and asked to come over tonight; didn't say why but sounded urgent. Is there a knot in your middle? No, he can't make it. Better or worse?
    The abbreviated version is: SH is calling. How fast do you pick up?
     
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  12. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    What a great way of putting this! I think when it comes to lying, that is when I can ''cut bait'' quicker than other times. If someone talks a good game, but lies to me, the friendship is done, sooner than later. But, there are those in life who are manipulative, whether they are siblings, friends, coworkers, or even neighbors. Manipulation is almost like a leaky water faucet, that drips occasionally. It takes a long time before you realize how bad the friendship/relationship has fallen, and one day you open the door, and a flood washes over your feet. I'd rather the faucet pipe burst all at once, and then it'd be easy to figure out what to do next. But, many times, we tolerate the drip drip drip of a leaky faucet, until we can't ignore it, anymore.

    The ''gut test'' of any relationship is valuable advice, Jeeves. I wonder if men are better at the gut test than women, and/or if ''cutting bait'' comes easier.
     
  13. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Why were they your friends, then?

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    That makes sense.

    It can be easier to keep people at an arm's length, due to fear of being hurt. I've tried this anyway, and then you risk letting people in. If we blockade ourselves from harm, we also blockade ourselves from good people and friendships.
     
  14. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    It just becomes a matter of becoming a little more discerning in the choice of friends. You don't need to be eager to keep new people away but just using your gut decide if they are on balance a positive or negative influence on your life.

    You can't be friends with everyone and I think it's better to have a few close friends than to be superficially friendly with everyone you meet. It just isn't tenable.

    You could date everyone you meet but that's not tenable either so you use your gut feeling.

    I have some friends who can be annoying (to me) but I've known them a long time and they have some really good traits as well and they are worth dealing with the negatives. I might spend less time with them than with other equally close friends who aren't so annoying

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    but they are all close friends.

    If I find someone to be annoying and their other traits don't sufficiently compensate for their bad traits those just become "acquaintances" rather than close friends or I don't hang out with them at all.

    Once I decide that I want someone in my life for the long haul then that's the "calculus"

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    that I've performed. I never kid myself into think they will "change". Some do but that's not a good assumption to make regarding humans.

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  15. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    For bad things, I judge words or deeds, for good things, I need proof of real goodness, anyone can fake that shit.
     
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  16. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Fake. That's the right word! Many people are fake, and it is very easy to throw around false praise, but not as easy to show someone that you care. Social media makes it super easy for people to throw around false praise and accolades, appearing like one cares.

    So you say that for bad things, you judge words, too. Does this mean that you would end a friendship over someone ''hurting'' you with words, alone?
     
  17. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    This may sound funny but talking about someone behind their back, to me, is much better than talking about someone to their face.

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    If someone, that I consider to be a friend, is nice to my face and by their actions then if they say something behind my back (that's true but critical) that's not a problem necessarily for me.

    It's just good manners to talk about someone behind their back.

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    I'm kind of joking and mostly being serious. I don't try to control people so if two of my friends were to talk about me behind my back, even if it's critical, that's OK.

    If someone is always complaining about me to my face they won't be my friend for very long.

    You can't lecture your friends and expect them to remain close friends. It is OK to talk about them, with other friends, behind their back if it's true. What would be hurtful to one's face isn't a bad thing if not done to their face.

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    What if you have a good friend who is a great person but isn't all that smart or who makes bad judgement calls sometimes?

    You can't keep being critical of your friend to their face but it's OK for two mutual friends to discuss that 3rd friend behind their back. It's OK to say "XXX isn't that bright and today it got them into some trouble". It's true, you both like that person but it's not OK to tell friend XXX "you're not all that bright".
     
  18. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    haha! This is funny.

    If your friend is a good friend, a trusted friend, wouldn't you wish for him/her to tell you the truth in order to help you? Let's say you have a gambling addiction, wouldn't it be good for your true friend to try to help you break free from that addiction? What could seem like a lecture, might be worthwhile if it saves you.

    True friends often tell us some harder truths about ourselves, the ones that talk behind our backs, are they true friends? I see where you're coming from, but perhaps I put this type of thing into the ''gossip'' category. Might have to ponder it some.

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  19. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    I'm not talking about not confronting someone with a real problem. My scenario is more in the gossip category. Feel free to gossip about me but don't insult me by doing it to my face.

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    haha

    I'm just saying people are flawed and we should just accept them as they are. We do this with friends. You don't try to correct minor flaws with your friends. That's annoying. No one wants that. You can still "gossip" about those characteristics behind their back with other friends.

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    It's human nature. In the case of your friend, I don't know the details (obviously) but I"m just saying that naturally actions do speak louder than words, words do matter sometimes but you can get too sensitive as well.

    If you hear that a friend is talking about you behind your back but they have always been a good friend and the talk behind your back isn't mean spirited or untruthful then I would say don't jump to conclusions and blow it out of proportion.

    As always, the devil is in the details of course.

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  20. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Truths can also be recruited for manipulation, so the latter doesn't always fully equate to nothing but falsehoods being told. But discerning deception via whatever form (words or actions), is just one possible ingredient for inducing change (like terminating a friendship). It's often not sufficient alone for ending relationships that have become burdened with:

    1. Duty; commitments / promises; a "we've helped me out each other _X_ times in the past" usefulness bond

    2. Psychological dependence; shared involvement in a history of events; pleasant routines that still rival disagreeable ones in quantity / importance

    4. Sympathy for "tragic background" stories; the other's open confession of struggles to discipline their unruly impulses, etc

    5. Etc

    One or a mix of those above has probably sprouted more complicated roots between two people than what might otherwise seem just a superficial social-kinship to outsiders. If / when all it takes is attempts at repair to draw one person back into a friendship whose conditions have been repeatedly violated.

    Past actions are the better indicator of what to expect in the future from a person. My summary judgement of a suspect individual is more a useful evaluation or interpretation. Matters of "truthfulness" might not even be applicable if they believe themselves what they are saying -- i.e., when their later unpredictable behaviors are not falling out of a deliberate plan or scheme which they crafted that embraced deception and manipulation. But it's usually still practical to go with my quick and simplistic moral conceptions of another person [for an indefinite duration] when all I've got to go on is outer appearances and my lack of omniscience.

    The development, history, and maintenance of civilization was / is founded upon the contribution of a bevy of potential "white lies" and beneficial, abstract constructs that were declared or communicated in one sense or another so as to have effects. I surely exist today because of some outright prevarications told inspirationally to my ancestors and their cultural contemporaries that probably had devastating results for one group while having beneficial consequences for others.

    But that said, we have "to do" in order for words / ideas to be realized (for better or worse), so it's a safe bet that our acts have more impact.
     
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  21. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Argh. Sorry about the typos and other missed clean-up opportunities slash garbled items in that last past. The price of getting interrupted before a last check, then forgetting all about it after returning. Then finally remembering much, much later after the hour or half-hour edit period has long since expired.

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  22. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    Happens to me all the time. I used to go around with a paper bag over my head, but that was counterproductive: the people on the forum couldn't see my embarrassment and i bumped into things. (Eyeholes? Oh, eyeholes! Now, he tells me!)
    In the last decade, I've had to assess a number of relationships for balance. Truthfulness was less of an issue, overall, than cost-benefit ratio.
    There were several schoolmates - seems, late adolescence is the most bonding time of life. At that age, our personalities are still forming, adaptable and receptive, and boys or girls of the same age (in the same environment, with the same life-challenges), are more alike - generic? - than differentiated. So it's easy to make friends. Loyalty and habit keeps us 'friends' over time, though we may have geographical distance between us; if we don't meet often, we don't annoy each other.
    This one classmate from Grade 12 turned up again, several times over the years. Happy reunion, catch up on what's happened, enthusiastic, detailed account of his successes, and by the way, he needs a little favour: somewhere to stay for a few nights, medical advice, source material for a night course - nothing major, but always out of the blue and inconvenient.
    40 years on - forty!! - I finally twigged.
    Then, having detached that person from my life and feeling so much lighter, I started examining my relations with other old chums. Two are solid; three have been cut adrift.

    Now, if I could only face the storage shed with this same resolve....
     
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  23. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    That sounds a bit backwards, but okay. lol

    People are flawed, true. But, there's an old saying - if they'll do it with you, they'll do it to you - in regards to cheating and gossip. lol I don't see the need to gossip.

    I'd agree but if we treat people the way we wish to be treated, wouldn't that solve so many problems?

    If it's positive, they can talk about me. lol But, to talk about me to my friends, negatively, shows a cowardly aspect of said ''good friend''. Say it to my face. Just my opinion.
     

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