In general, it’s better to just be honest with everyone.
The reason why we aren’t honest, generally, is because we think other people can’t handle the truth.
Offering and Asking for Things
It is common to offer things such as food, towels, clothes, tissues or other things to be polite or hospitable. This is likely because it is considered rude to ask for such things because it is putting the giver in a tough situation where they can seem rude if they do not give it, so they are essentially forced to do so even if it is against their will. To avoid this, the system instead recommends that we avoid asking people for things, but it doesn’t fix the situation because it forces everyone to offer things even when they are not asked to. It tries to avoid the issue of the person asked feeling forced to give things, by forcing everyone to offer things. This obviously does not fix the problem, it instead just expects others to politely decline. What this means is that people offer things without really wanting to give them, and people decline even if they want them. Alternatively in some cultures, one can even be expected to decline an offer, but the other person is expected to offer multiple times, and after a specific amount of times the person is expected to accept it to not be rude. It makes no sense for someone to eat, drink, or otherwise take something they do not want. These convoluted systems only work as long as everyone knows the system and is willing to accept these arbitrary traditions.
In reality, this system makes no sense. What it tries to avoid is someone asking too much of someone, and the other person either feeling obliged to give it to them or seem mean or selfish when they do not give it to them. The result of this system makes it so that instead people do not ask even when they want something and that people offer when they cannot or do not want to.
These procedures are enforced by society by them being considered polite, and anything else being considered rude. This is an arbitrary distinction since it assumes that the person asking is being inconsiderate or selfish. What it actually is is a way to keep order through rules that make no sense. Instead of all these odd rules, people can live a much simpler, direct, honest, and more efficient life by simply asking if and when they need or want something, and the other person either giving it to them willingly or not giving it to them for a good reason.
You should ask for things when you want or need them. You should judge whether or not you should give someone what they ask for with proper reasoning and empathy. If you don’t have that thing, cannot afford to give them that thing, or if you want or need that thing more, those are valid reasons not to give someone that thing if you are sure they are true. If you get what you asked for, you should be grateful, and if you don’t get what you ask for and they have a good reason for not giving it to you then you should understand and no one should be offended or sad about this. Giving each other things should be a matter of logic and empathy, it should not be expected as dogma.
There are times when asking for something can cause issues, for example if someone is hiding something from you, like a diet they are on, if they do not have much money, or if they can’t find something. In these situations asking for something might put them in a difficult situation as they don’t want to reveal why they cannot give it to you, especially if it is personal. Such situations though also emphasise why being honest is better. If the person is reasonable, there is no need to hide such things from them.
Giving people gifts usually are surprises, in an attempt to make them happier when receiving them. There are two aspects to this surprise, one is not knowing that they are getting a gift or when they are getting a gift, and the other is not knowing what the gift is. Being surprised with a gift does not necessarily always make the experience better, as some people prefer knowing that they will get a gift so they can be excited when anticipating it. Not knowing what the gift is though is perhaps more important in this discussion, as this changes the nature of the experience. When giving someone a gift it is because they want the person to have something nice. Therefore it makes sense to give the person something that they will like.
When receiving a gift, your reaction to the person giving it should be that of gratitude because they were kind and caring and generous and empathetic enough to want you to have something. There is no doubt that that is the correct response to someone giving you a gift, but if you do not like the gift, then you should not have to hide that and they should not expect you to like it. Especially if the person bought the gift without knowing you, it is unknown whether or not you will like the gift, so expecting someone to like it is illogical.
Since the point of giving a gift is to make them happy, one should know what the person wants before giving it to them. If you do not try to figure out what they want, then you have no reason to expect that they will like it, defeating the point of the exercise. This is best done by simply asking the person what they want. Surprises are fine if you are relatively sure that the person will like it, or if you are willing to run that risk and do not assume what their response will be.
You should be grateful, but you should never be forced to like or pretend to like a gift. This is being dishonest for illogical expectations of others. This is especially true if for example someones gives you a piece of clothing you do not like, and since you had to like and say you liked it, you might be expected to wear it the next time you see them to show them that you liked it. This shows how the system forces the person you give a gift to to lie and do things they do not want to, when you were in fact trying to make them happy. This contradicts the point of what you were trying to do.
When you receive a gift, you should be thankful to the person who gave it to you, but you should not lie about liking it. The person who gives the gift should try to give them something they want, and should not expect them to like it.
If someone has something on their face, has messed up hair or even if they smell, people generally do not tend to tell them for some reason. This might be because they do not want to offend them. The idea of an objective warning like this should not offend anyone. These statements are merely observations that are not opinions or judgments, and they help that person by giving them information. There is no reason to be offended by such things, so people should tell people when there is something that the person should know.
The problem is partly that people do get offended by this. This is likely because of two reasons: the first is that they take such statements as judgments, and as stated previously people generally do not like being judged. This is their problem though as they are taking it in the wrong way and need to see it for what it is: the fact that someone else perceived this, rather than the opinion they have. If people can take observations for what they are then they should not be offended.
The second reason people get offended is if the person is not informing them of a fact, but instead is actually giving them opinionated judgments, particularly in a rude or inconsiderate way. One should not be offended when someone says that they have disheveled hair, but if someone says that they are a homeless person because of their hair and does not mean it as a friendly joke, then that is the fault of the person telling them this. While it still does not make sense to take offense from this, the problem is that the person saying this is being inconsiderate and possible harmful. This kind of behaviour is disrespectful and has no justification.
Aside from the people who make mean comments like that, people should be honest and direct with others if they think the person needs to or should know something. Information is far more valuable and is worth perhaps offending someone, but no one should be offended at this, because if so then they are offended at someone trying to help them by giving them information, which makes no sense.
Hiding the Truth
There is a common idea that anything else is better than pain. This assumption is often wrong, and is the cause of people hiding painful truths from people who deserve to know them. If someone accidentally caused someone else harm, has lost someone or something, or something else has happened that would make them sad or angry, they deserve to know. Hiding the truth from them does not solve anything, it merely prolongs them finding out, and if you hide it from them forever then you are denying them their right to know and their right to make choices based on that.
A common example of this is not telling someone that they will die, so that they can live the rest of their life peacefully without fearing death. This idea is filled with fallacies and assumptions, the biggest of which is that the person might live better knowing that they will die so that they accomplish something important rather than waste time and make plans that they will not be able to carry out. This fallacy assumes that the most important thing for the person is for them to have a few moments of ignorant pleasure or happiness rather than suffering before they die. There are things far more important than pleasure that people can do with their lives, especially if they do not have long to live. That person will absolutely need to say goodbye to the people they love, and by not telling them that you have denied not only them but their family, friends, and loves ones of that final opportunity. It is extremely arrogant to assume that you know what is best for the person, unless you are absolutely sure beyond any doubt that the person cannot decide that for their self, in which case someone else will have to. Such a situation is rare and extremely hard to know and decide about. In general you are denying a person of their right to know and their freedom to make choices, act, and achieve things by not telling them the things that concern them.
There is a questionable exception when them knowing will cause them damage, such as if they will do irrational things or if it might cause medical or psychological issues. This must be handled very carefully, as it is difficult to determine if that is the case, and if so, the person should be told the truth in such a way as to avoid those issues, because ultimately they need and deserve to know.
All these things have the same justification: being indirect and hiding the truth or lying causes problems and is unjust and morally wrong. People think that they are doing the right thing by hiding the truth but they are simply conforming to a system that separates us and keeps us ignorant. If everyone were honest and direct, we would solve a lot of issues. If we were ever uncertain, we could simply ask someone. Decisions would be made with as much correct information as possible, so we would all make better decisions in general.
The problem is that people are not aware of this, but even those who are tend to think that it is better this way. The reason for that is the root of the problem: people cannot handle the truth. If everyone were more open minded, rational, empathetic, and strong, we could openly discuss criticisms and help each other become better people and do things more efficiently. People would accept advice and judge whether or not it is useful and what course of action is the best to take. We would avoid cheating, lying, and general dishonesty.
Philosophy helps people know what is true and what isn’t, so it helps us fix issues we have with ourselves and become better and more successful people.
Rather than being insulted or avoiding insulting others, just be honest so that everyone knows the truth.