A few years ago a very good friend of mine had a party. Before I arrived she had asked a number of guests, “Do these pants make me look fat?” All of them replied “NO, not at all!” The minute I walked through the door, my friend accosted me with the question. I turned her around, gave her the once-over, and said, “Nope, your butt makes you look fat.” The guests dropped their jaws in HORROR. My friend broke the silence that followed with seam-bursting laughter. “See?” she said pointing to them. “I knew you were all lying.”
That incident illuminated a critical flaw in the popular notion that so-called white lies are always desirable. My friend had been looking for honest feedback about the extra weight she’d gained. The party guests negated what she had known to be true.
“Polite” lies have become the norm. Recent studies claim that individuals lie an average of two hundred times a day. Two hundred! Granted, most of those lies are told to either avoid confrontation or spare the feelings of others, but the price of “facilitating” smooth interactions is a devastating loss of trust and intimacy. That’s why I tell the truth. It’s risky, but I’d rather be deeply loved for the person I truly am, than artificially bonded by mutual lies.
I admit, it takes a while to get used to. Telling the truth in a society where lies are the norm, is shocking at first, and acquaintances typically perceive me to be thoughtless, or rude. To those who bother to get to know me and appreciate my honesty, my truth-telling brings them into focus as a subset of the population that is just as rare as truth tellers — those who are willing to hear the truth.
Once a truth teller opens the door, it’s only a matter of time before honesty starts flowing both ways and relationships shift into a parallel universe in which words are more meaningful, thoughts seem more tangible, and deeds more durable.
I remember the day that a very polite friend of mine walked into my house and spotted a craft project that I’d proudly placed in a prominent place on my entertainment unit. She stared at the red patent leather stiletto filled with dried roses and baby’s breath, and blurted out, “That’s absolutely hideous!” I’d never liked her more than at that moment! She had broken down the last of the barriers between us.
Tell the truth for a day or a week and post your results here in the comments section.