From the Blog

In Defense of Being Less Than Honest

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Okay, so I’m not a liar. But I’m not obsessed about telling the truth. When I hear someone say they need to be honest, or they defend Honesty At All Costs, regardless of the consequences, I find myself suspicious of their motives.

Honesty seems like a virtue in most possible scenarios. I agree, for what “real” honesty means. In meaning that it is the “truth.” Truth is important.

But many, many (many) people confuse “honesty” with their “opinion.” And in that case, I have no need for your bullshit. I hear the phrase, “I need to be honest with you…” and perhaps I run on the defensive side, but that means you are about to say something shitty. You’re a champion for honesty, my ass.

I had an experience long ago, of going out to lunch with someone who loved to complain. We sat in the restaurant, and I listened to the endless litany of her dissatisfaction. She didn’t like the chair, the coffee, the coffee cup, the curtains, the food, the people sitting over there, the chilly breeze, the sunny day. She saw me quietly listening to her droning and finished off by saying, “And that’s the truth!” I’m so glad, in that moment of time, I quipped back, “No. That’s your opinion, and no one wants to hear it.”

Put a cork in your damned honesty.

I make countless conversational decisions about when “honesty” is “worth it.” Do I really want to get into it? Do I have the time and energy to explain? I know I’m a lazy communicator. (I’m not proud, but bear with me, I’m being honest with myself.) There are plenty of times where I may have avoided telling the truth, and separately, avoided giving my opinion, just to end a conversation faster.

Now if a friend or family member tells me they are going to buy gold bars, and guns, and creamed corn and bury them in the woods, I might try to mention rational alternatives to that strategy. It depends on how close a friend or family they are. It’s a case by case basis to determine how much I see eye to eye with someone. If I care about someone, and they ask me, I’ll lend my $.02. And I am thankful for the friends who have done the same for me. If someone is bent on being a nut, no amount of my “honesty” will help. I like creamed corn. I get it.

I’d rather not sacrifice someone’s feelings for the sake of “being honest.” I’d like to think I have enough empathy to know when someone is really asking for my “honest opinion,” or when they are looking for reassurance, or when they are looking for support. Listen harder. Is your honesty all about you? If it is, put a damn cork in it.

Truth is important and worth standing firm for. You can be more delicate with opinions and feelings. Some may say it’s indirect or weaselly, but I think it’s worth the extra effort to disagree without tramping someone’s damn flower garden. Or if you can’t do that, if your opinion is so mighty and powerful, don’t say anything at all. And that’s hard to do when you have a big fat “honesty” soapbox to lug around.


  1. I hear ya, sister!

    I find the older I get, the more “direct” I am. And I also put up with less shit from people. (more likely to call them on it). I used to keep that stuff inside. I’ve reached that age (mid-thirties, I know) where I don’t care.

    And I have no problem with people buying gold bars and burying them in the woods. Everyone should do it!

  2. Jim Sifferle says

    Heather, that was a great post. There’s a lot of wisdom in those words! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thanks guys. I find too, that as I am getting older, I am less bullshitable. I appreciate being direct more. And I am also much more aware of where the “direction” is coming from.

  4. Meredith says

    This is just a quote everyone… Heather, was it worth it? ;)

  5. isn’t it interesting how we become less amenable to bullshit as we get older. after my divorce, i was like “i don’t have time or energy to pussy-foot around.” and now, with death looming, it seems even more useless to be less than truthful. death has a way of wiping that windshield clean. i think i don’t trample feelings, i think i listen well and offer what is needed. but. this post made me more aware of that tendency of “honesty”. oh wise woman, i will remember your words of wisdom.

  6. Great post. I have trampled some gardens, unfortunately, and I’m in the process of trading my soapbox for a cork. Those of us with big opinions need to hear the truth sometimes.

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