Honesty’s A Funny Thing.
Most people claim to want it, but still, they get mad or laugh with surprise when they hear it. Recently at an event, I heard Owen Benjamin talk about honesty–because that’s what he is–just an honest guy. He said something along the lines of, “It might be offensive, but at least you know exactly what you’re getting.”
He mentioned how when he tells the truth, he often gets laughs–and it’s not because the truth is necessarily funny, but because people don’t actually expect honesty from each other anymore. It’s funny because I noticed the same phenomenon as an exceptionally blunt person. I answer basic questions and get laughs because I answer in ways that aren’t typically considered the ‘social norm,’ but it is the truth of the situation. Just ask someone how they’re doing — or think of your answer when you’re asked. Do you expect the truth? Do you give it? If a wife or girlfriend tries on a new outfit and asks you, “Does this make me look fat?” I think most assume she’s not looking for the truth. In fact, I bet most people would call it a trap. This exact scenario has been used so many times for jokes in television and film.
This one’s also my favorite: How about when people ask you questions while they walk away? I have such a problem with this because it’s so insanely rude and there’s no better way to say, “LOL, I don’t care, but I’m pretending so you think I do!” than asking questions, even something as benign as “how are you?” while continuing to walk away and never showing interest in the answer. I don’t really understand how it’s so hard to not ask if you don’t really care. I really don’t. That’s why I don’t just greet with “How are you” as a synonym to “Hi.” If I say “How are you?” I’m genuinely asking for an answer, and thus, I don’t say “how are you” to every person I meet. Generally, none of us care. It’s even a minority of coworkers and friends who care how people they know are doing.
After so many experiences in my own life, I’m beginning to strongly believe no one wants the truth, they just pretend they do. When someone asks for feedback or personal opinion, they generally aren’t looking for honest, but rather, affirmation. “Isn’t it a good idea, guys?” shouldn’t be followed by anything other than a ‘yes, sir’ kind of statement in modern society. Any sort of descent is seen as condescension, hatred, anger, or disapproval.
I’ve gone through a sort of metamorphosis as I came into adulthood. As a teenager and early stage 20-year-old, I used to be very quiet. I kept to myself a lot, I didn’t complain or talk much because I didn’t think I had much important to say. If I disagreed with someone, I kept it to myself because it didn’t really matter. If I thought someone’s ideas weren’t the greatest, I kept it to myself because they were doing their thing. If asked for my opinion, I usually stayed away from that sort of conversation, though as I stayed out of conversations, honesty and the truth was always important to me. If you read through my blog, you’ll see truth is one of my driving factors and it’s been (or going to be) the subject of some soon to be published content.
Truth is insanely important to me, and so, because of that, I often answer as truthfully as I politely can. At work, I’ve found I get in trouble plenty for being blunt, though I’m told to be honest and straightforward. They tell me they want feedback or they want us, all the employees, to be honest, but when you’re honest, they don’t like it. Upper management, or any management, doesn’t want honesty, they want yes men who fall in line and, when asked for their opinions, only have good things to say. Any decent, disagreement or opinion uncalculated is met as though it’s insubordination–even when they openly call for it.
Over the last few years, however, I’ve become quite the cynic. One of my rules is don’t believe what people say, believe what they do. Words don’t mean anything. If someone makes a promise to me, I hardly acknowledge they’ve made it because words aren’t actions and so many people in my life have acted the opposite of what they said. I want people to prove they’re honest through their actions. I want to see people live by the way they say they do and I find it impossible to trust anyone based on their word alone. Now, maybe after someone has created a repertoire of follow-up to their work, then I’ll believe their word without seeing action, but let’s be honest, how many people really follow through on their word?
In my experience, most will say something in the heat of the moment, expecting brownie points, then hope that you forget and never bring it up. That’s why people will ask for feedback early on when you shouldn’t have anything to say in response (because it’s so early!), but they’ll resist asking later on down the line because you might have something to say.
That’s why I resist what the news tells me unless I see the truth with physical evidence. Which only makes all these causes of, “Just believe me without evidence of any sort!” all the worse. What it instantly says to me is you are a liar. Every last person who claims they should be believed without evidence is admitting themselves to me as a liar until they can prove otherwise with evidence.
Anyone can talk.
Anyone can create dialogue or a fake scenario or rules they never have to follow.
But now I’m getting off-topic.
The truth is, people call for the truth, they demand it even, but they don’t really want to hear it. If you tell the truth, you’re often an outcast. If you dare tell the truth, especially an unpopular truth, or a truth that punches upward at people who are supposed to have power over you, you put yourself at risk.
Few people want to hear the truth and even fewer people participate in spreading it regularly. I’m not always right and I never claim to be, but I try to tell the truth as I know it and I’ll change my position on things when new information becomes available. I follow through on my promises or I let people know if I can’t–or I try my best.
What I’d like the world to do is stop asking for honesty if you don’t really want it. Don’t ask for opinions, don’t ask for thoughts, don’t ask for something you know you can’t handle and then get mad when it’s served to you on a hot plate, because anger sent to a truth-teller after being asked for the truth, is only going to show you as a conniving villain. It adds to the smog and resentment in human interaction.
May I ask that if you’re not an honest person, then stay out of my way? Because I don’t have time for you.