Evangelizing through the Catholic Arts

Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove

gloved fist

Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove

Have you ever heard that phrase before? It was new to me until the day I had to deliver some bad news on an audit. The auditee said that I had an “iron fist in a velvet glove,” meaning that I delivered a hard punch, with not much comfort, since velvet wouldn’t soften the blow of an iron fist very well. In my innocence, and to some degree of arrogance, at first I took it as a compliment! Then I got to thinking about what he said.

How we deliver truth is just as important as the truth itself. For how it lands with someone dictates the degree of acceptance. If you come across as unfeeling, uncaring, but right, what good does it do you if what you say falls on deaf ears; especially when the person being communicated with doesn’t want to deal with the stark reality of the truth being expressed? In my example, it was good for me that the auditee had tough skin and could take what I had to say. He dealt with the truth based upon the merits of my argument, and not the reality of the way it was delivered. The irony of it all is that the auditee used tact to communicate a difficult truth to me, about me. That was a tough pill to swallow. It would have been nice had I treated him with the same amount of respect.

Until the past few years, tact has eluded me my entire life. It wasn’t until I started exploring the virtues, embracing the virtues, and practicing the virtues, that tact has found a welcomed home within my spirit. Virtuous living has a way of changing you for the better. So, now, rather than beating people over the head with the plain truth, I find ways to communicate it in a softer, more encouraging manner. I use tact to inform people “what’s in it for them” to face truth. I act with kindness, remembering that at times it is better to be kind than to be right. I have learned that you can say what needs to be said and not be vitriol; but rather virtuous.

We have now covered all of the virtues from a basics perspective. I have defined all of the virtues, explained why it’s important to embrace them, and how to practice them. All of that is now in the archives accessible on the right sidebar. It’s time for us to kick it up a notch and make some changes. Come back for our next reflection, and I’ll tell you where we will be traveling next on the road of virtues. Don’t miss it!

This post also appears on The Catholic Bloggers Network , Association of Catholic Women Bloggers, and Top Catholic Blogs.

5 Responses to Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove

  • Someone once told me when talking to others use lots of pillows, it helps soften the blow. I try diligently to practice that. I enjoyed reading your post tremendously! 🙂

  • I personally believe that the saying “Iron hand in a velvet glove” means being steadfast and uncompromising in the truth, while at the same time showing love and gentle-kindness in delivery. I don’t think that the velvet glove is merely a masking over of the firmness beneath it, but a genuine and sincere, loving, compassionate and caring way of dealing with our neighbors. Just as we must first be wooed and then winnowed… first embraced by the perfect love of God, and then purified by cleaning away what keeps us from conforming to Christ. To use the saying in a negative way, I believe, is to belittle the velvet glove aspect of it… making it more akin to the “wolf in sheep’s clothing” saying. To me, being called an iron hand in a velvet glove is a compliment to our tact and our ability to allow all the fruits of the Spirit to flow through us, while remaining faithful to God and honoring the truth.

    • Oh Wolfie where were you when I was going through that trial! Trust me, his words were not meant to be complimentary. However, I love your view of this colloquialism. Thanks for sharing. – Peace, Virginia

      • Thank you, Virginia! I was glad to have come across your page in my research. I had always thought of the colloquialism as a positive thing, and was surprised to find that others actually have a negative use for it. Thank you for your kind words. God bless. 🙂

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