Why you’re not friends with honesty

Posted on June 7, 2011


Whenever I am worried about how I look, I have the following conversation with Callum:

‘Does this look ok?’

‘You look great.’



‘Would you say if you didn’t think I looked good?’

‘Sweetie, you look great.’

‘Answer the question.’

 ‘I’m not going to answer it; you’re going to think whatever you want anyway.’

‘So you don’t think I look good?’

And so on and so forth.

I am an awesome wife, I swear.

Self justification and public endorsement

I got to thinking over the weekend (after I chased Callum around the house asking him if my ‘thighs looked chunky in these jeans’) that we all have this conversation but it takes on various forms depending on circumstances.

Replace my outfit with an attitude, or a situation where you probably overstepped the boundary and want someone to excuse that crap thing you just did.

‘Yeah man, it is TOTALLY fine for you to wear a short sleeved business shirt / be a bitch / proliferate nuclear weapons / be irresponsible with money…’

Self justification with a side of public endorsement = delicious.

If we feel understood and/or agreed with, then we don’t have to change.  We can carry on our merry way knowing that there is at least one other person out there who thinks that everyone else is wrong, too.

You got sumthin to say?

The danger in this though, is if your outfit is awful and you’re not willing to hear it and you haven’t given anyone real permission to tell you that there is no excuse for ‘jeggings’.

Deal with it

Being honest is often the most loving thing we can do for someone we care about.  And letting people be honest with us is one of the most loving things we can do for ourselves.

Think about how things would change for the better if we had the courage to confront issues as they happen.

I’d be willing to bet my husband’s brand new Steph Curry Golden State Warriors retro swingman NBA jersey that 85% of ‘issues’ could be cleared up with a two minute conversation followed by a hug.

Too easy.

Or not.

Let’s be honest; honesty can be a dicey business

Most of us are very content in our bubble of self-justified bad behaviours/attitudes/insecurities and we do not take kindly to people getting up in our grill about it*.

We like it when people like us and so we choose not to be honest at times because hard conversations can threaten the happy-clappy-conflict-free-world that we all delude ourselves into thinking we need.

But it is this very conflict that will build character, strengthen our relationships, sharpen our communication skills and shape our perspective.

We actually need conflict in order to grow.  And it doesn’t have to be a jarring, painful thing – done well, it can be life giving and constructive.

But what if it doesn’t go well?  What if they don’t listen? What if I’ve got it wrong?  What if things get awkward and they stop inviting me to their Christmas party?  What if it affects our friendship?

Well suck it up, princess; it already is affecting your friendship.

We have a responsibility to help each other be (more) awesome and this cannot happen without honesty.

Given that hundreds of invitations to Christmas parties around the world are on the line if my ‘man-up-and-be-honest’ revolution takes off, here are some strategies (most of which I’ve learned the hard way) to help you:

  • Love must come first.  Love wins respect, confidence and keeps people safe.  If someone feels safe, they will be less defensive.  If I know that you genuinely love me and that you’re committed to helping me be the best me that I can be (ohh that rhymes) I’m not going to freak out (as much) when you challenge me.
  • Be gracious.  In speaking and in listening.  Chances are the person might have the wrong end of the stick about an issue.  Maybe they misunderstood something.  Maybe you did.  Be willing to hear someone else’s perspective.
  • Get over yourself.  You are imperfect and EVERYONE KNOWS. Your imperfect ass is totally busted. So just roll with it and be willing to grow.  Be willing to acknowledge you got it wrong.  There is no shame in someone admitting a mistake and growing from it, there is only awesomeness.
  • Laugh at yourself. People who take themselves too seriously are a major drag and often easily offended.  Ironically, they usually don’t realise that they are easily offended and so having conversations that gently point this fact out are usually not well received. Laughing at yourself regularly about the stupid things you do is the perfect antidote to this.
  • Believe the best.  People are amazing.  We just have to figure out how to draw the amazing out of them and encourage them to be awesome.  This is as much for their benefit as for ours.

I double dare you to get over yourself and invite some honesty into your life.

I swear you won’t get lynched**.

Yours truly,


*Just look at North Korea.

**May or may not be able to guarantee this, but hey if your friends do lynch you then you probably should have culled them on Facebook before things escalated. Those Farmville requests littering your inbox are your own fault.

Posted in: Talking Frankly