Remember this guy? You know his whole thing about “You can’t handle the truth!” I’ve been thinking about truth and honesty a lot this past week. Coincidentally, I read a great short blog by Brad Feld this morning called: Poke People in the Eye With Truth and Then Give Them a Hug. The thought stream was sparked by a conversation I had about a week ago with a girl I briefly met while I was helping a buddy work the coat check at his Conceptua event (young professionals networking). Yes, that’s right, I was coat check boy for a night.
I was sitting there marveling at my organizational prowess when I was introduced to “Chloe” (real name withheld) through a friend. We got to talking and I found out she was from LA, land of honey and smog.
At some point we got to talking about passive-aggressive behavior which eventually led to a conversation on truth, honesty, and directness. I’ve always gotten along better with people who don’t dilly-dally around a subject and cut to the chase. It doesn’t mean I don’t also appreciate someone who can maneuver social politics when necessary, but I just feel if we’re more direct and honest with each other, the world would simply be a better place. Of course, people would have to be able to accept truth and honesty, also. I’m not sure everyone’s comfortable with it. It takes inner strength and the ability to remove ego to be able to be brutally honest with yourself. Not everyone is made of such stern stuff. Also, I want to make the point that you can be honest and direct without being an asshole about it. Some people equate the two together. That’s generally a mistake.
It was around this subject that we got to an interesting point in our conversation. I brought up the fact that I can’t stand when people part ways and say things like “Let’s do lunch” or “I’ll call you” and don’t really mean it. Have I done it myself in the past? Sure. I’ve since changed my ways. I just think people should mean what they say.
Chloe felt that it was socially acceptable to not mean what you say. I didn’t want to pronounce judgement, so I asked her to expand on this. She felt that it was ok to mislead people verbally if, through body language, you show that you’re really not interested in hanging out. That was an interesting perspective. I immediately pictured in my head someone giving me the finger, but saying “Let’s totally get together next Saturday night”.
I asked her what if someone couldn’t read body language very well? I didn’t seem to get a clear answer on that, but it seemed the assumption was everyone should learn how to read body language correctly. I wasn’t sure if that was a defensive posture or simply her absolute way of thinking. I decided to let it lie where it was, but I did wonder if it occurred to her that there are so many cultures with different forms of body language that mistakes can be made and gestures misinterpreted. Even my honesty could be interpreted negatively in certain cultures.
We didn’t get a chance to expand on the conversation because a drunk male individual decided to butt into our conversation and try to hit on Chloe (he failed hilariously).
Since that night, I’ve been completely fascinated with her line of thinking. I guess the obvious observation would be that she exudes a typical LA attitude, but that’s too easy an argument to make and steeped in fallacies. I’ve run into people who think like her from all walks of life and geographic regions. I enjoy the fact that there are those with contrary thinking to myself. Such is the beauty of life.
I do want to point out that I made no judgement on her character, but simply lived in the moment of the conversation. We didn’t get a chance to get to know each other enough for me to have an opinion on her character either way. Perhaps I’ll reach out to her and continue our conversation. I know there’s more behind her than what I gleaned in our short meet.
In the meantime, what are your thoughts on direct/indirect social behavior? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.