While the practice of living your life telling people what they want to hear is controlling, that doesn't mean that you must spit out the absolute truth in all it's glory in every situation, remember it's all about balance. Sure there are people you don't care to be close with and you say things to be civil. We all do that. There is a place for that. and it doesn't hurt us to be nice to people.
For example, I have a reputation in the horse business for knowing my horses. That means I know a lot about horses and others respect my opinions about them. Because of that I get asked a lot about other people's horses. How do I like them? Shouldn't they have won? All of that kind of stuff. There couldn't be any more slippery slope than that.
Most people are totally barn blind (that means they see their horses better than they really are) about their horses and they want others to see them the same. Most of us think our horse is the best, after all. If I intend to make a living in this industry I cannot go around hurting people's feelings but I also believe I cannot go around lying to them either. Finding the balance between the two is interesting at best.
Sometimes the questions are casual. "My horse is so pretty, isn't she." In these situations I try to say something honest while still keeping it positive. That may mean I don't give them my total opinion. In actuality, a brief comment is really what they are asking of me. "I think she has a really nice eye." (Nice eyes are important and a compliment.)
In those rare situations when someone is asking me for my complete expert opinion, I try to clarify that with the person before I ever look at the horse. Making it clear to them if they are not prepared to hear the bad with the good, then don't ask.
Fortunately, the times I have been in this situation, the people were glad that I was honest. Even when it turned out their horses were not what they thought they were. It helped them decide what kind of money they wanted to invest into getting the horses trained and what their goals for those horses would be.
So it is not a given that I am going to spit out everything I know about horses when I am asked about a horse. An equally slippery slope is when I am asked about an owner, breeder or trainer for that matter. I have strong opinions about all of those things. There are breeders who get top dollar for poor quality horses. In addition there are lots of trainers, breeders and owners who are not honest and/or do not know as much as they think they do.
It someone asks me my opinion about dealings with others in the trade, finding the right balance to answer the question is important. Just always telling everything I know is not going to be productive for either party. Figuring that all out is one of life's challenges. It's not about being manipulative or controlling, it's about being appropriate. Whatever I do, I keep it honest.
How horses are treated can and does get me in deep trouble. There are many more methods used to train horses that are not good for the horse than there are humane ones. Someone has to speak up for horses, just like they do victims, and I do.
My rule of thumb in finding the balance on these situations is I never will sacrifice the safety of the horse for my own neck. Other than that I try to find the balance that suits the situation. Total honesty (meaning I don't withhold pertinent information) is reserved for those relationships that are important to me.
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