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I'm Just Being Honest

Ever hear it? Said by someone about themselves or by someone referring to another?

It is usually stated in one of the following ways (I will use the first person as examples):

  • I'm just telling it like it is

  • I'm just being honest

  • With me what you see is what you get

There are many others but this is the broad strokes. The issue is that what it is normally saying is:

  • I am very rude and have no manners, boundaries, or sensitivity.

However, my first point will actually disprove one of those. The sensitivity. It is the most common that people who subscribe to that bafflingly unsophisticated way of being, have only a one-way sensitivity filter. A filter to consider peoples feeling, but one fitted with a non-return valve. In short they can dish it out but not take it.


They happily ask about somebody’s child who has a wine-stain birthmark, or if a fat lady has said she has joined the gym will respond with either a joke regarding extra insurance, or maybe a screwed-up face as they say:


"Really?"


I am willing to bet, based on repeated experience that the ones that do it are the ones who would cry/fight/sulk if you asked whether they used their husbands nose to get pickles out of a jar or if, with their skin complexion do they often get mistaken for sunburnt?

It is usually defended by a story of great magnitude. They can make fun of others but their issue is out of bounds. For example If you mention their gigantic earlobes it is unfair because they 'had to go to the doctors every day as a kid to have them measured' and it 'could have been cancerous' so that’s out of order.

This just shows a totally warped presumptuous view of others and a rake of self-absorption.

Secondly they confuse comments with insults. To say to someone when you see them that their haircut/tattoo/clothes look awful, then to hide it under one of the taglines, it goes to the corny, trite, but undeniably admirable philosophy that if you cannot think of anything nice to say, say nothing at all.

If someone asks, then I still say show some tact. It depends on what is being asked about and how it is being asked. If it is a physical change or addition to one's person (haircut, beard, earrings etc) then if asked in earnest, I say find a compliment. The response to that would be something like the usual line of "telling it like it is" but you can always try to make someone feel better. No excuse.

The wonderful Robert Webb, who is a massively underrated author in the shadow of the ubiquitous Mitchell, once wrote a charming article about responses to friends work (actors) and he gave a truly heartfelt analysis of why a true friend would never "tell it like it is." He says how even playful so-called 'matey' digs are unwelcome. After all, when one (almost always) bloke says to his tall friend as he walks into the pub:


" Get over 'ere you lanky prick!'


What is the value in that? People (blokes) say it is a laugh and etc etc which is fine, maybe it is. However ask yourself why? Why do it? There is no way it is ever going to make a friend feel good and is almost guaranteed to make them feel at the very least a tiny miniscule amount of hurt, barely noticeable. Then there are some who will feel it a lot more. It is a spectrum, but the point is why bother at all? If you know your friend is going to, at the very least, be annoyed and a little offended, why do it? It is your friend. In retrospect it is a really odd thing to do. Imagine explaining it to an alien who asks:

"Why does an ally speak to another ally this way if it may hurt his feelings I do not understand?"

The only answer to Blort (see Ryan George) is to say that some people like to be noticed and remembered. Indeed, it is not lost on us that the type of people that do this always seem to laugh at their own gag first and loudest. You do not need to be Sigmund Freud to see that it is because they are afraid no one else will, and it is usually not an irrational fear.

Check out the list of 50 signs that you are a c**t


There are however exceptions. What I would say is if it is someone who is constantly compliment-fishing then it has a time and place as you are laying down a gauntlet! If you are trying to be an architect of a compliment or you suffix things with a closed question, e.g.: someone showing a photo if their child and saying:


"He's so cute isn't he?"

Or someone has had a haircut and says:

'Don't you think this looks so much better?"


Then I am less sympathetic. For a start you are asking, and secondly you are inferring what the answer should be using a little trap where you have made it so the only civil response is the one you are seeking, be it consciously or not, this is an agenda so I will leave it as a valid exception.

So what to do about it? Not a lot I am sure. In various work and social situations throughout life this pops up and always will. Yet never once have I seen it as a plus point. People say this about themselves as if it is a benign blessing. It is not. So let us finish with a definitive translation:

  • I'm just telling it like it is = I have no manners

  • I'm just being honest = I will be rude to people with opinions I am not asked for

  • With me what you see is what you get = I do not know how to behave in public

If you agree with this then maybe next time you are told this by someone, act as though it is a malign proclamation. Give the same reaction as if they have just told you they have just got out of prison for aggravated burglary. It needs to stop being seen as something to be proud of.

If you disagree, then you are probably one of them. If that is the case please remember one thing; Honesty and truth are not the same.

NB Yes I am well aware of the irony of writing this article when no one has asked me to.

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