In our infancy, we were taught the wickedness of lying and that we should always be honest towards other kids/people.
Not much time passes before we learn that a society without lies is an utopia. You may have realized this at an early stage (if you’re smart enough) when your parents lie to you to protect you (or at least this is how they defend themselves). That’s the initial shock.
The next stage is in adapting to the society is conceptualizing the degree of lying; believing that white lies are actually necessary to secure a spot amongst friends or society.
Imagine your best friend asking how her new, but horrible dress (let’s say it’s yellow) looks… I can almost hear you saying “Nice”, especially avoiding stronger positive adjectives or exclamations like “wow!” which we consider to be a form of lying. The use of the word “nice” and rolling your eyes to avoid further eye contact really helps you to remain besties.
But, it’s still lying, isn’t it? What is worse is that you’re lying to your best friend…
So, what can be done to ensure not pissing your mate while uttering words of truth.
The answer is simple: Bending the truth! Or not having to lie but still sharing your true opinion/emotions. But how?
Okay, the first lesson is free: “Bending the Truth 101″…
All you have to do is to mumble something barely audible like “hmmm”, following a statement somewhat true : “I think, it would suit you much better if it was in blue”
The key phrase here is “much better”… as “better” doesn’t always mean good. However, it can make the transition from “terrible” to a plain “bad”. The real message you convey would be “Your dress looks bad!”
Another tip is to select words wisely. Here’s another case I once read in an ELT Activity book:
A little girl goes to her mother and asks if she could have ice-cream before dinner. The mother says no. Then, the little girl goes to her father to ask him the same question. The father asks her if she had asked her mother. The girl nods her head in confirmation. The father says “Then, I suppose you can have one”. The girl runs happily towards the ice-cream stash.
Does the girl have a hidden agenda? Yes
Is she lying? No.
Here’s a personal story; I used to live only a couple of blocks from my previous work place (which was on a very busy street) and it usually took me 3 minutes to walk to work. Nobody knew where I lived so whenever I was late for a meeting I would tell my boss that there was heavy traffic (which was indeed true although it never affected me).
No lying, no hard feelings…
As I got older, I mastered truth bending and got along pretty well with friends. But, it wasn’t enough. I started dreaming of a world of total honesty like in the Ricky Gervais movie “The invention of Lying”.
Then, I decided to give it a try; being totally honest with everyone. I lost many friends but the ones who remained… they became my true friends because when you’re totally honest, they become the same and you begin to share the most intimate secrets with each other…That’s priceless…The connection becomes concrete…
You should give it a try to see for yourself.
P.S: I do think this is not one of my best work… but it is to the point… and I admit I’m expecting a few good words about this entry nevertheless.