How did some of our language get all twisted around, bent out of shape? And how much of it is based on white lies, politeness, placating or keeping the peace?
Ryan Holiday, the author of the great book I read a page of every morning, The Daily Stoic, wrote an article about the 100 things he learned from reading Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations 100 times in 10 years:
Who hasn’t used the expressions “I’ll be honest with you” or “With all due respect” or “I’ll be straight with you.” It wasn’t until I read Marcus’s specific condemnation of these phrases that I really thought about what they were saying—honesty, respect, straightforwardness should be the default. If you have to specifically preface your remarks with it, that’s a sign something is wrong with your normal speech and your normal habits.
And I did exactly that a couple weeks ago. My friend Matt went with me to a footy game 100km away in Brisbane, paying $45 for his own ticket. Thing is, in the end I didn’t really care too much about the game in the end, and when his girlfriend asked me about it, I said, ‘To be honest, the best part was going onto the ground and kicking the footy after the game.’ The non-lame way to have said that would’ve been without the first 3 lame words.
As Ryan Holiday says, honesty should be the default. When we preface what we say from the heart with things like, ‘Honestly…’, ‘Frankly…’, or ‘to be honest…’ (or Ryan’s examples), it’s a sign to check-in and see how honest you’re really being at all other times. Get rid of those copout prefaces and live an honest life. Honestly