Have some tact.

I like your purple door.” comments a passing neighbor. “Other people don’t, but I do…and who cares about them anyway, right?” she chuckles flippantly as she strolls away.

“Hmmm…not really a compliment,” I think to myself as I coax my feisty Jack Russell back into the house through my now questionably painted entryway.

Tact is an invaluable social skill and it seems today, more than ever, people could benefit from a refresher course. Why is it that so many people feel justified in blurting out whatever thought pops into their heads regardless of the potential impact? Do the feelings of the listener not matter, or is it so important for the speaker to spout off her opinion that the listener’s feelings are inconsequential?

Brutal honesty is not always appropriate, authentic or polite. Just because you think it, doesn’t make it true.

The social skill tact means to sensitively and skillfully interact with other people. Tactful people filter their comments because they realize that many of their thoughts are irrelevant and do nothing to better their relationships. In fact, some hastily spewed opinions can be offensive and cause major relationship damage. Well socialized people understand that their opinions about people’s clothes, hair, relationships, children, spending, religion, and politics can actually burden others. Perhaps they have a strong opinion about the color of someone’s front door, but they keep it to themselves because the color of someone else’s front door is none of their concern.

I speculate that one reason people lack tact these days, is the ramping up of social media and the nagging and repetitive twenty-four-hour news cycle. We are ceaselessly bombarded with content, much of it pretty low-quality.

Google recently reported that people watch one billion hours per day of Youtube videos! That’s a lot of bad information through which to sift.


Much of what we see is intentionally sensationalized to entice viewership and make money. Hyperbolic adjectives are inserted into headlines to out-shout other content and allure the viewer to click on that exciting sounding story from among the thousands. The viewer is barraged by ads once on the site.

Clever writers use words that rouse and agitate viewers. I pulled the following list directly from today’s online news headlines.

  • Enraged
  • Mind-blowing
  • Nightmare-inducing
  • Goes crazy
  • Jaw-dropping
  • Slams
  • Feuding
  • Worst
  • Blasts
  • Wildfire
  • Destroys
  • Fireworks

The higher the traffic volume the higher the profits so it pays to incite the reader.

Forget tact! I am outraged!

Sometimes people get fired-up over the outrageous stories and feel compelled to comment. Those comments are extreme and polarizing and allow no space for opposing opinions. The more fiery the comments get the more emboldened people’s comments become. Consider the following news article and the comments under it.

Runner Busted for Cheating at the

Ft. Lauderdale Half-Marathon

Posted by Staff

FORT LAUDERDALE – The second-place winner

of the Ft. Lauderdale Half-Marathon

admitted to cheating after a

man challenged her results.

Jane, from New York….

Post Your (tactless) Comments

Ten Second Dan

                                                                                nice bod but not pretty


                                                                                You are an idiot. What difference do her looks make? I bet I can guess who you voted for in the election.

Mila Down South

                                                                                Only apologizing b/c she got caught. Clearly not a mentally stable person. Makes me sick.  Shameful.


                                                                                What a plonker! Good she was caught. It sounds pre-planned to me, she knew her exact plan for the shortcut and the bike after.

Steven E.

                                                                                Proudly poses with her award. Only remorseful after she was caught. It’s very clear who she voted for.


Making outrageous and impolite comments in response to something posted online, has become run-of-the-mill. Rudeness online is commonplace and expected. People certainly don’t hold back and seemingly do not feel badly when they insult and belittle one another. Social skills and common decency are non-existent, let alone tact. Viewers beware: commenting on an article automatically subjects you to others’ vitriol-of course if you are fast you can beat ’em to the punch. I wonder if people realize that ripping people to shreds is not a sport, it simply demonstrates poor social skills.

It is my opinion that the comfort people feel sharing their extreme and contentious opinions online has seeped into our face-to-face interactions? People seem to have become so emboldened online that they are similarly impolite in person.

Whether sitting behind a screen or at a coffee shop we have a societal duty to use appropriate social skills and treat people with dignity and respect. It is unacceptable in any forum to be tactless, hostile, and impolite.

We don’t want our children to grow up in a harsh, mean world, It is crucial that we teach our children proper social skills like tact and kindness, generosity, respect and deference. They have to learn that no matter what the forum or situation, they have a duty to be sensitive and respectful of people’s feelings. We have a moral obligation to teach our children that their words have impact and their relationships are important and should be nurtured. It would be a dangerous mistake to allow children to make a distinction between the way they treat others in the “virtual” world and the way they treat people in the “real” world. There is no situation in which it is okay to be a jerk.

All children should be taught social skills, and maybe my neighbor could sit in on a class or two.

Become a certified social skills trainer!

If you would like to learn how to teach children social skills, manners and etiquette sign up for the Children’s Social Skills Trainer Program today! All of our social skills, life skills, and communication skills programs are available online so that you can start learning now. IACET CEUs available for those needing them.