Random Firings of Neurons

The rest of your life is going to be spent getting back up after life has knocked you down again. You might as well just get used to it.

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Location: Round Rock, Texas, United States

Monday, July 26, 2004

On honesty

People hate honesty. Really, they do. I can assure you, with as much experience as I have with being honest, most people would actually rather you weren't honest. In fact, most people will assume you are not being honest, unless it is their best interests to believe you are honest. This is irksome to me.

I used to be a habitual liar truth-challenged individual. Many years ago, I was strongly "encouraged" by my father to not be quite so truth-challenged. So, with my typical over-compensation, I became a very honest person. Not overnight, mind you, but I did it. Problem is, I became what is kindly refered to as "brutally honest". I will tell people what I am thinking without any thought put into what I am saying. I am aware that there are times when a little fib might be a better tactic than telling the truth, but in those situations, I usually opt for silence. Usually. Every now and then, I can't help myself, and I answer questions truthfully when I really shouldn't. (I would NOT reccommend it with the "Does this outfit make me look fat?" question. Trust.Me. It will not go well for you. You'll recover, eventually, but the bills will be with you for years.)

An area where people don't appreciate honesty is requests. Most people, when they ask for something, ask for it with an expectation of the request being granted. So, when the request is denied, their feelings get hurt, because they were taught that asking nicely automatically grants requests. When people hear requests, they automatically feel that they HAVE to grant the request, simply because it was requested politely. So, if the requestee does not want to grant the request, the requestee now has to come up with an iron-clad, stone-cold, lead-pipe lock of a reason for why they cannot grant the request. Which means they have to tell a lie, usually. Because "I don't want to" is generally not considered a valid reason by the requestor.

"What do you think of this?" is another area where people don't like honesty. The asker is generally fishing for compliments, rather than seeking an honest opinion. I wish I had learned THAT one at an earlier age! A gentleman I used to work with, when told "I need your opinion", responded with "Okay. You're ugly". Not neccessarily truthful in all circumstances, but it showed the fallacy of the question. The asker isn't asking for a truthful opinion, but rather an opinion that matches theirs. Honesty is not what is being asked for.

Since my Clinton-would-have-been-my-role-model days, I have learned that my response to the above situations is rather different.

When I make a request for assistance, I mentally prepare myself for the answer to be "no". I also try to assume the answer actually will be "no". It makes it easier for me when I do hear that "no". It also relieves the requestee from having to make up an excuse that I will be able to shred instantly. Because I am trying to honestly ask for assistance, with both possible answers being acceptable, most people don't know how to react. They look at me like I've grown a second head. It confuses them. The look on their faces when I walk away in the middle of their "explanation" of why they can't render assistance is rather priceless, though. They don't realize that I actually accepted the "no" at face value. Anything after the "no" is probably a lie.

When I am asked for assistance, I automatically assume that the other person is willing to hear "no". If they are not, it might be a good time for them to get used to the word. I do not deny requests frequently, but when I do, I expect that my "no" will be accepted as all the answer they need. If I say "no" just because I am in a bad mood, I don't feel I should have to make up a reason to say "no". I was the one who was asked. Let me be the one to determine whether or not I will do it.

Most people who have known me for long enough have learned to NOT ask my opinion, unless they really want to hear what it is. I won't make up an opinion just to please another person. I have enough problems with pleasing myself, I don't need another person to try and please. Both of us will just end up displeased.

If I ask another person's opinion, (which is frequently) I expect an honest opinion. I wouldn't ask unless I wanted another viewpoint. If the fact that I have an opinion on something isn't good enough for me, why should another person agreeing with me change that? I refuse to use another person to justify my opinions. My opinions, right or wrong, are mine, and should not be influenced by another person's. I will admit that I am a little skeptical of positive reinforcement of my opinions, because I always have to ask myself, "Are they just blowing smoke to make me feel good? Or do they honestly agree with me?" So, when I actually hear a positive opinion about me or anything I do, I usually take the "no-self-esteem" route, and probe and question until I am satisfied that the opinion is actually honest.

Now, after all this soul-baring, would I want the rest of the world to act the same way? Many times, I would like that. There are other times, though, when I think that maybe I am the weird one, and everyone else has it right. I'm not sure how I would react to someone who viewed honesty the same way that I do. Too much honesty can be a bad thing...it's usually not, but there are times when a little fibbing is just what the doctor ordered.

In my long-winded way, what I am saying is, if this site sucks, and you think I should do something differently, please tell me. I won't neccessarily enact the suggested changes, but I will consider them. Even from trolls. It may not be for long, but I will consider them.

That's not a carte blanche to criticize. It's a request for ideas.

If y'all want me to discuss something, or to delve into a topic with more depth, please, let me know. The "other topics discussed by requests" at the top of the site is not tongue-in-cheek. It's an honest statement about what will be discussed here.

Semper Fidelis: Always Faithful, to God, Corps and Country