Sure there is. I know some folks that don’t think so, but there clearly is such a thing in my book. A couple of months ago, I was sitting in a hotel lobby and overheard a conversation between two young women. I’m going to call them Tracey and Michelle. Apparently Tracey was all googly-eyed over a new potential boo, and she whipped out her cell phone and showed Michelle a photo of the fella. At that point, Michelle blurted out, “He looks gay!” Now, pause for a moment. Did your jaw just drop like mind did then, or what? Poor Tracey looked like she had just been run over by a freight truck.
This was one of those moments I couldn’t help but think, damn, now that was just too honest. I’m always puzzled when people say foul things and then follow the nasty statement with the whole “I’m just being honest” disclaimer. Look-a-here, I’m all for being honest but everything we think, doesn’t need to be said aloud – even during girl talk.
Now you know that I’m not the pot that calls the kettle black, because I have certainly been guilty of what I call “bad honesty” before. Actually, I’m convinced that my DNA is laced with forward opinions and snappy comebacks, thus this issue is one of the many ongoing lessons in my own quest to have stronger relationships.
Bad honesty is the kind of self-serving honesty that only benefits the person being honest. You know, like the nosey aunt that tells the unsuspecting child that she is adopted or the busy body neighbor that notifies the neighborhood about your marital problems before the ink on your divorce papers had dried when nobody even asked her. In these cases, the recipients of the news gain nothing but heartache or gossip and neither of which make their lives better.
Being an Honest Agnes, I can’t pretend that I get it right every time, but I’m doing a lot better than I used to in the past. Here are some questions I ask myself before I unleash some “good honesty.”
• Whom will my honesty help the most?
• Will what I’m about to say be more harmful than helpful?
• Can this person handle the unbridled truth?
• Will my statement damage our relationship? If Yes, can I live with that?
I used to think that being biting my tongue was being disingenuous, but truthfully it has been a great exercise in restraint. I would love to hear your thoughts on when to keep it real and when keeping it real goes wrong.