Balancing Truth and Tact: Voltaire's Guide for the Digital Age

From the quill of Voltaire to the keyboards of today: uncover the art of balancing truth with tact in our hyper-connected world. A guide to effective, empathetic, and engaging online interactions

Balancing Truth and Tact: Voltaire's Guide for the Digital Age

Wednesday August 30, 2023,

2 min Read

In an age of information overload and a constant barrage of digital opinions, Voltaire's words echo with renewed significance: “Everything you say should be true, but not everything true should be said.” At its heart, this quote underscores a delicate equilibrium between genuine communication and prudent discretion.

1. Upholding Truth in a Complex World

Voltaire's plea, “Everything you say should be true,” underscores a non-negotiable virtue: honesty. As we battle fake news and deceptive narratives, it's this unwavering commitment to truth that serves as our North Star. Truth begets trust. Whether negotiating a business deal, fostering personal connections, or influencing public discourse, authenticity remains paramount. In transparent truth-telling, we build credibility and cut through the murkiness of deceit.

2. The Grace of Silence

Yet, truth, while imperative, isn’t always black and white. The latter part of Voltaire's statement cautions restraint: “but not everything true should be said.” What warrants this silence?

  • Empathy Over Brutality: Truth can sometimes sting. If a raw fact might unnecessarily harm someone emotionally, perhaps it’s best left unspoken.
  • Strategy Over Impulsivity: In certain situations, particularly ones requiring diplomacy, every truth doesn’t need immediate airing. Strategic communication often prizes long-term harmony over short-lived candor.
  • Relevance Over Redundancy: We must discern between what is meaningful and what is mere noise. Sharing every fact, no matter its irrelevance, can muddle a conversation.

3. Striking the Balance

Voltaire isn’t endorsing deceit. Instead, he’s advocating for a communication strategy that balances authenticity with empathy. Consider the coworker who's poured heart and soul into a project that misses the mark. Is a blunt critique the best response, or is there merit in tempering truth with encouragement?

4. Digital Discretion

In our social media-driven world, where every thought can be broadcasted globally, Voltaire’s insight becomes even more vital. While digital platforms democratise voice, they also challenge us to determine which truths enrich the discourse and which might only sow discord or confusion. Sharing is easy; sharing wisely is the challenge.

Voltaire's wisdom isn't just a historical footnote. It's a compass for navigating the intricate paths of today's communication landscape. As we tread these routes, his words remind us that while truth is a powerful ally, knowing when and how to wield it is the key to meaningful dialogue.