I have a habit that’s been getting on my nerves. It’s something that all of my friends do to one degree or another, and depending on where you live in the world, you probably do it too. When I’m talking with someone, whether it’s a friend, family member, business associate, client, or complete stranger, I find myself inserting some pesky adverbs in my conversation with them. And they use these same pesky adverbs while speaking to me, sometimes without any contextual need to do so.
Honestly, I Seriously, Frankly, Truthfully, Don’t Know Why
I haven’t heard it much lately, but when I was in high school and was reading Catcher in the Rye, my peers all agreed in our disapproval of phonies. Maybe it was this collective distaste for the inauthentic that lead to this new standard practice in our communication.
We put a high value on honesty and sincerity in people, which makes sense. Who wants to be lied to? But do we really distrust each other to the degree that we have to preface so many of our statements with the fact we’re not lying? “No really, I honestly am really very hungry, and I agree with you. We should eat lunch.”
This phenomenon has seeped into every facet of American culture, including our music, television, movies, and marketing…
I’ll Be Honest, I Could Really Go for a Pizza
Autism, allergies, and childhood cancer may sell products for childcare, but what makes us think that the people we’re speaking with feel so unsafe while they’re talking with us? Have lies and fear become so pervasive that we feel the need to regain trust every time we have a conversation?
Frankly, We Need Less Drama
Drama is an obvious cause of the “honestly” syndrome in our society. We’re all so plugged into the media, that I think we sometimes forget how to live off camera. The people on screen model absurdly over-the-top interpersonal communication, and while we might roll our eyes, perhaps it is molding how we behave. I know it’s true for me.
I find myself using these words to posture and impress. We use the drama of honesty to pull people into the moment and make them feel that they’ve reached an inner sanctum of who we are. We might even lower our voices and hunker against a wall for privacy. Okay, we’re safe now. We can really talk in confidence. Then I take a step back in my mind and realize that we’re talking about something mundane like dry skin. Why are we doing this??
Truthfully, I Need to Start with the Man in the Mirror
As I was thinking about writing about this societal quirk, the scripture that says, “let your yes be yes and your no be no,” kept coming to mind. It’s found in Matthew 5:33-37. The text really focuses on making promises, and not so much on just being sincere, but it still applies. It says that we shouldn’t swear. We should just do what we say we’re going to do: live up to our commitments.
People should be able to believe what I say without me parading around like a peacock, making a display of my trustworthiness. If my friends have a reason to distrust me, then I should be talking to them about that well before anything else, but that’s not the case- at least I hope not. It’s just a habit that I need to break. I need to be more plain-speaking. I hope our society can eventually do the same thing because, seriously, it’s getting old. 😉