Why are we so uncomfortable with the truth?

A couple weeks ago I had to write a review of a spa/hotel that I had visited.  I thought the place was beautiful, but it didn’t totally meet my expectations, and there were some things I didn’t like.  Instead of just writing from my heart, with my honest opinions, I tried to sugarcoat it.  I tried to skimp on the actual review so that I didn’t go into *too* much detail.

And the article got sent back by the editor.  Twice.  I can’t say that I blame her, it kind of sucked.

I felt like I was letting her down.  I felt like I was letting myself down.

So I started over from scratch and wrote what I felt, what I thought, what I did (and didn’t) experience, and 700 words later it was done.  And it wasn’t half bad if I do say so myself.

This experience brought up a very good question:

Why are we so uncomfortable with the truth?

Obviously, there are tons of reasons why people don’t always tell the truth.  My reason? Probably the most common excuse – I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings (as if the owner’s self-esteem hinges on my review, right?).

I feel like society sets us up to be uncomfortable with telling the truth, and I decided that I was letting that into my life and my decisions.  We’re taught to “bite our tongues” and to sugarcoat things because we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.  We call people fake and two-faced because they are afraid to tell people how they feel.  People who are up front with people are either applauded for being “straight shooters” or looked down upon for being “blunt.”

I for one, appreciate honesty.

I feel more connected to people who are honest than who are “just nice.”  If I mess up, tell me, so I can learn from it and not do it again.  How can you learn from your mistakes if no one will tell you what they are in the first place?

Honesty doesn’t have to be brutal.

Maybe sometimes people can’t be honest without feeling mean, but if the honesty is coming from your heart, not from a place of making someone else feel bad or feel wrong, it won’t be brutal and most likely will be appreciated.

So I’m committing to being honest.  Straight, from the heart, honest, even when it’s difficult or uncomfortable (Thanks Keith!).

How about you?

9 thoughts on “Why are we so uncomfortable with the truth?

  1. Nice article Abbie but why be committed to being honest for just today? Why not always?

    I’ve found people can easily be honest and friendly by detaching some of the emotion behind it. If you take a minute to gather your thoughts and words before being honest with someone it will help take off the edge or the “brutal” side of honesty.

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    Abbie Reply:

    Good point – I guess I should re-word that 😉

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  2. I think people aren’t honest because the truth hurts. I have the tendency to be too honest, too often, which gets me in to trouble, particularly in the corporate setting. Because I always appreciated constructive criticism, and other people say “tell me what you really think,” I do just that, but what most people are saying is, “tell me something that I want to hear.” When you don’t do that, the person being honest often takes the hit.

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    Abbie Reply:

    It’s true – most people don’t really want to hear the truth, they want you to say something to make them feel better. I appreciate your honesty, JoAnna 🙂

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    Keith Reply:

    I feel your pain! Honesty and a corporate environment is extremely difficult to balance. I struggle with it on a daily basis, especially since I moved to the UK where culture is to beat around the bush and never really engage anything directly.
    I think a big part of it is people managing their expectations when the truth is on the table. When I ask for the truth I brace for the worst. Maybe more people should do that.

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  3. I think you found a compromised solution to the question at the end – tell the truth, but with your heart. Rather than a corporate style bluntless, as that doesn’t give the corporate answer!

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    Abbie Reply:

    Thanks Rob!

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  4. Good points! I think that honesty through the lens of good intentions, can range from choosing to be silent about something, to couching what very much needs to be said, with a needed amount of tact and wisdom.

    Great thought. Very important subject.

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    Abbie Reply:

    Thanks for your comment, Veron, glad you enjoyed the post! I definitely agree that being honest can include quote a range of possibilities!

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