Be honest, life is too short to pretend

When our words and actions don’t match, there is a clear discord, which is clear to others

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By Shilpa Bhasin Mehra

Published: Tue 16 Aug 2022, 8:58 PM

Last updated: Tue 16 Aug 2022, 11:02 PM

Have you ever wondered why people say things that they don’t mean or are untrue? I have noticed this often. Whether from habit or laziness or fear or pseudo-politeness, we all say things we don't really mean. The issue is that some people say such things constantly. It is more annoying when you are the party hearing it and know for a fact that the statements being made are so untrue.

I was thinking of some of these lines and a popular line goes like this: "It's not about the money or I don’t care about money." If money weren't an issue, you wouldn't even think to bring it up. Of course, if you say it's not about the money, you could prove it's not about the money, by forgoing that raise, giving back that bonus, or taking less equity or profit. What is more ironic is that after making this statement, in the next 60 seconds, the same person will ask how much it cost. At least give the two statements a gap of five or 10 minutes, so that you don’t appear so contradictory. There is nothing wrong with attaching importance to money, after all, it’s hard earned and a necessity.

I respect people who look around to check if the price they are getting for xyz is reasonable. No one wants to be fleeced. The money saved on one item can be used for other purposes. So why the pretence? You want to know the price of a hotel, airline ticket, to a coffee at Starbucks, which is fine, since you are paying, so why shrug your shoulders and say it’s not about the money?

The other phrase I hear often in the middle of a conversation, “To be honest…”. Seriously! Were you being dishonest all this while and now suddenly want to be honest? Some pompous people even state, "I'm a giver." Truly giving people give generously, selflessly, and without expectation of return. They give because their happiness comes from someone else's happiness. Giving people give simply because it's who they are.

Others think it's super cool to say, "I'm just thinking out loud." Actually, you've had the idea for a while, and you think it's great. But it's a lot more fun to come across as if you're super creative (almost a genius) and just got a fantastic idea on the spot. On a lighter note, when we just want to end an annoying conversation, we say, "No, it's fine." In fact, it's far from fine, but you don't want to talk about it anymore.

We should say what we mean. Let there be some honesty and authenticity in what we say. People see it and appreciate it. When our words and actions don’t match, there is a clear discord, which is visible to others. That doesn’t mean we don’t make polite conversations (please note the word polite qualifies the conversation) when we are in social gatherings. Everyone is not our childhood buddy that we can blurt the first thing that comes to our mind.

Think of financial expert who advises us on investment options and questions us about our risk appetite – is it conservative, moderate or aggressive? It’s an honest question and since it’s our hard-earned money, we give an honest reply. That’s the way it should be. We don’t say things like, I don’t care about money, to the financial expert. I think we say such things to others, to appear to be cool, be socially accepted and hide our insecurities somewhere.

Another case of false statements is those made so convincingly by tour brochures. After being fooled by some tour companies and their enticing brochures, that this tour hardly involves any walking, and then you discover the 10,000-step walk to see the monument, I have completely stopped believing them. When an agent tells me politely that I should skip the tour, that person is a picture of honesty for me and hugely respected.

We all say things that we don’t mean, make faux pas and politically incorrect statements. Maybe we could endeavour to make fewer of these. Life is too short to pretend. Humour is so needed, so ending this article on this note.

“When people ask me stupid questions, it is my legal obligation to give a sarcastic remark.” and “I’m not saying I hate you, what I’m saying is that you are literally the Monday of my life.”

- Shilpa Bhasin Mehra is an independent legal consultant based in Dubai

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