Pick how many times you navigate conversations and substitute truths with pleasantries to create a better sound garden for your listeners to enjoy.
“Do you like the colour of my dress?”
“Can you guess my age?”
“How was your day?”
Honesty. That’s all anyone asks. It’s a simple process. A question is asked, and you provide an answer.
Here’s the challenge: Do you give a truthful response or a piece of pleasantry instead?
You may think you have a choice, and I suppose you do, but underlying motivations often take over. The choice to use truth isn’t always yours to make. It belongs to the outcome you prefer to share with another.
Enter: The Delicious Lie.
“I just LOVE that dress!”
“My day has been FANTASTIC! Thank you for asking.”
“You’re not yet FORTY, right?”
It’s polite to be nice towards one another. It’s nice to be kind. We call it social bonding. That’s what matters. Besides, it’s not a real lie if it doesn’t harm anyone — and it’s told with good intentions, right? Absolute accuracy doesn’t matter. In the scheme of things, a dress is nothing. Age is nothing. And one of our shitty days doesn’t need to become someone else’s. It isn’t end-of-the-world stuff giving someone an inaccurate answer. Affirming and nurturing relationships matters much more.
“I’m EXTREMELY well thank you.”
No one loses. No one dies. Everyone gets on with their lives and they are just a little bit better for it.
Humans keep from speaking the truth many times a day — and they don’t even know it. A wide latitude of subjectivity exists around all things we say. Your interpretations are different to mine. Don’t forget, that creativity plays a role too. Everyone likes to hear a good story. Some of us like to tell one. That’s when the truth takes a holiday.
Santa Claus. The Tooth Fairy. The Easter Bunny.
Okay, those don’t count. They’re fiction — falsehoods woven into the tapestry of culture to entertain and delight. The truth need not apply if it teaches us lessons, brings us giggles, or helps an eye leak a thought-provoking tear.
But there’s a slimy type of lie that snakes its way in and out of conversation all the time. Sometimes we don’t even notice that it’s there.
I LOVE this lie best. Truth abstinence is cunning. It’s a lie that never even touches the lips. Don’t get me wrong, silence isn’t always a reptile of the forked kind, sometimes it is just what it is, nothing, a nil-response with zero information or intention. It’s harmless.
Often, it’s not.
I’ve bitten my lip many times to keep the peace at work, at home and with my family. Not every thought in my brain is turned into sound. I have good restraint. I wallow in the dark waters of silence.
Let’s say you have just been informed that you have terminal cancer and, rather than creating worry in the people you love, you decide to take the less-is-more approach and keep the prognosis to yourself. To everyone else, you’re well and always will be. It’s a lie, but kind intentions surround it. You didn’t deceive your people, you gave them a comfy cushion, a warm blanket and a nice cup of hot cocoa.
Good on you.
Words are just thoughts sprouting sound flowers. Until proper words are grown into sentences, private thoughts are yours to keep safe in the safety of silence. Bad news doesn’t have to exist, and silence is there to keep the faith of believers. They’ll snuggle up against it because they place trust in what you don’t say as much as what you do.
I haven’t said a lot.
In my time, there are many things that have come and gone, and I’ve remained silent all the while. There are clues as all silence comes with a price. Keeping secrets has its limits. Don’t worry, no lie has been leaked, not yet. My words are contained and arranged in ways to stop them from being exposed to others. Some of my actions are questionable but, fortunately, I’m no one special. I move in mediocrity. No one takes notice of my actions or knows the root of my silence. My wife should, but she doesn’t… care to know, that is.
Only my spouse’s surrogates get to see the real me. They take a quick peek into the darkness behind my eyes. And then they die.
Did I just say that aloud?