It’s a universal fact, no one likes looking stupid, like ever. This fear of looking stupid gets worse if it’s in front of people we like or people we are trying to impress. To avoid this, there is a dangerous tendency to pretend we know what someone else is talking about when we actually don’t. This form of lying causes stress, discourages authenticity, and makes it harder to trust.
This type of lying takes on all forms ranging from nodding your head to confirm understanding, even when you don’t understand, to attempting to explain something that you don’t really know about. Every time you’re tempted to lie like this, you run the risk of it coming back to haunt you later. Like that time you bragged about your parallel parking skills…shhh, no one has to know.
When you say or do anything that isn’t completely honest, you are setting yourself up to disappoint yourself or someone else in the future. Maybe you aren’t being honest with a spouse or a doctor. Maybe you’re pretending to know everything for your kiddos so they’ll think you’re cool. It doesn’t matter your reason, each time you do it, you’re missing an opportunity to grow.
Honesty makes you more likable
While being the person who knows all the things is cool, it’s also unrelatable. Most people feel insecure and uncomfortable more often than not. Being around someone who isn’t being honest sends an automating red flag saying that they’re trying to hide something. Even if you don’t know what it is, part of your brain will struggle to trust them.
On the other hand, someone who is honest and real is much more comfortable to be around because it doesn’t set off red flags. They come across as relatable which makes it them much easier to trust.
One of the easiest ways to be more honest is to admit when you don’t know the answer to something. It doesn’t matter if it’s your kids or your boss. If you find you don’t know something, admit to it in a way that encourages dialogue. “I’m sorry, I’ve never used this tool before. Could you show me how it works?” or “I don’t know the rules to this game, could you give me an example?” both work great.
Admitting you don’t know will not only reduce the pressure to always have the answers, but it will also teach your kids that it’s okay not to know something and ask about it and will help you learn more if the opportunity presents itself.
Storytime: Honesty in the workplace
Back when I used to work in a vet’s office, we would get countless phone calls from people with health questions about their pets. While I had been professionally trained to work as a vet tech, I was definitely not a doctor. I was young and trying to not look stupid so I felt an unreasonable amount of pressure to try to figure out an answer. Doing this day in and day out stressed me out more than any other part of the job, and this particular office didn’t encourage any sort of support if you didn’t have the answers. I ended up leaving the job to find something where I didn’t feel pushed to be something I wasn’t.
Fast forward to today and answering the countless questions my kids ask. I used to try to come up with good answers, even when I wasn’t sure. It took years before I realized I wasn’t doing them any favors by allowing them to believe I knew everything. In fact, it made things harder because if they ever had a question, instead of trying to figure it out themselves, they came to me.
One day it finally clicked that I wasn’t required to answer all of their questions. It is so freeing to say, “Sorry dude, that’s something that’s way outside of my experience. Where do you think you could learn more about it?” instead of fumbling to find some sort of answer. I used to feel huge pressure to have all the answers and now that pressure is gone.
Discussion Question: What’s the dumbest thing you’ve lied about?