Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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        Sincerity and Tact.
  If I were to suggest the two most desirable qual-
ities for a woman to possess they would be sin-
cerity and tact.
    Sincerity in great and small matters and tact in
    Sincerity does not mean brutality, nor tact means
the sugar coat which renders that honesty palata-
ble to one's friends.
    Yet white blackbirds are not so rare as sincere
human beings.  Night after night and day after
day I hear people applaud and cry "bravo" at the
performance of some reader, singer or instrumental
musician; and I hear them immediately afterward
turn to one another and say, "How dreadful,"
"What an amateur performance."
    If asked why they applauded, they tell you they
are so tender-hearted they do not like to hurt the
feelings of the artist or their hostess who has pro-
vided the entertainment.
    They do not seem to realize that they could keep
quiet and avoid any expression of opinion, or that
by quickly starting some other topic of conversation
after the recitation or song was done their failure to
applaud might pass without causing remark.  This
is where tact comes in.  Many people think they
must, as they express it, "always say what they
think."  Now, it is not at all important that we
should all say whatever we believe, but it is impor-
tant that we should believe whatever we say.
    The sincere person must, if he speaks, speak
truth.  The tactful person knows how to keep quiet
and how to divert people's attention from his
silence, when he cannot say what he thinks without
being brutal.
    When you applaud what you do not consider good
work, or compliment what you do not admire, you
are simply making yourself a liar, nothing less.
    A lady said to me recently, speaking of the wife
of a prominent man, "I do not like her, but I do not
want her for an enemy.  She is trying to strike up
an intimacy with me, but I will not have it.  How-
ever, I am showing great tact.  You know she is a
coarse, vulgar woman, but I tell her she's so beauti-
ful and fascinating, and I have flattered her into an
amicable state of mind, so she will not be antagon-
ized by my refusal of her invitations."
    There is never any excuse for such insincere
methods.  They react on the person who employs
them and bring about more trouble than they tem-
porarily avert.
    A tactful and sincere woman could find ways of
avoiding an undesirable intimacy with out making
dishonest speeches; for the false flattery to which
the speaker alluded was nothing less than dis-
    Association with a vulgar woman could not lead
to such disaster as my friend invites, when she
allows untruthfulness to undermine her character.
    Insincerity is like a rat in a wall; if left to do its
work, the wall crumbles eventually.
    In this day of progressive women most of us are
constantly asked for our opinion regarding the
numerous "artists" who seek to win the public ear
and dollar.
    I once knew a bright girl with fine musical taste
and a very kind heart and absolute sincerity of
    Listening to a performance of amateur musicians,
one evening, she found something to praise and
something to criticize in each one, until a curly-
haired youth who had neither tone, time nor tech-
nique gave a hopelessly bad performance.  When he
had finished my friend remarked, "What nice
curls."  There is about every one we encounter
something we can honestly praise.  Let us look for
the "nice curls" and speak the truth and not utter
lying platitudes about them as a whole.
    False praise, false compliments, never yet resulted
in anything but harm to the giver and to the recip-
    Nothing permanent was ever gained in business,
friendship or love by insincerity of word or act.
    Think what you say and learn how to be silent
when necessary.
    Insincerity is a boomerang which eventually an-
nihilates the one who employs it.

Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.
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