I have a friend who, on occasion, begins whatever he’s going to say next with “to be honest”. When I hear that phrase, I usually reply jokingly with, ”No, no, lie to me…because that’s better” or “Have you been lying this whole time?” This phrase has been around for quite some time, and while I understand that it’s just a figure of speech, it still annoys me. “To be honest”, it ranks right up there with “Let’s be real” or any variation on that theme.
Part of the reason that these sayings get under my skin is that it leads me wonder if whatever you said prior to the honesty announcement wasn’t entirely authentic to how you really feel. Are you actively being authentic to yourself and to others?
Personally, sometimes I am and sometimes I’m not; it’s difficult to be 100% authentic these days. We tend to go along with the popular opinion to avoid an argument, or because we’re initially worried about how what we say will be perceived. For instance, a few months ago I found myself in a middle of a conversation about gun ownership. Usually I would walk away from that conversation, as it’s one of few topics I don’t discuss with people that I don’t know well, but someone in the group asked my opinion. Giving an honest reaction or opinion to something can be scary and it makes you vulnerable. But staying on-brand with how you act and feel provides a sense of clarity and confidence that you don’t embody when you’re just following the herd.
In this case, I chose to give my honest opinion because the conversation was a genuine debate and not just someone telling the other person in the group that they were wrong. Had that conversation been different, I would have walked away without expressing my opinion, even when asked. For me sometimes it is better to not engage. In the end, walking away and not expressing my view under those circumstances would have been authentic. Besides, I enjoy spending time alone, which is also authentic to me.
Being secure enough with yourself to be authentic 100% of the time takes some practice but has so many benefits. Being authentic engenders trust and transparency in others towards you, and you don’t have to worry about what you said to whom, since you were honest from the start. This weekend, how about we all just keep it real with each other and ourselves? See what happens ?
“Authenticity is when you say and do the things you actually believe.” – Simon Sinek