Honesty is the ultimate compliment one can give someone. When you’re honest with someone, it shows you have respect for that person’s ability to handle the truth. Sometimes people know the truth, or they are insecure and so they ask us indirect questions. If you lie to save face, you create a rash of open-ended situations from which you have little escape.
Can I borrow $20?
Either lend the money or don’t. If you don’t want to lend it just say so. You don’t need an excuse. It’s your money and you worked for it. If you give excuses, the questioner will check you on your facts. When he sees your Facebook friends tag you in a photo eating out at a fancy seafood restaurant, he’s going to wonder why you said you didn’t have the money to help him out. Just say “no” and leave it there. Don’t give him a reason to tear apart your excuse. Trust that he is perfectly capable of hearing a rejection. An excuse is insulting.
What are you doing on Saturday?
This question is loaded, especially when it comes from someone who is always asking for a ride (or asking you to babysit or something). As soon as the question comes out, you know what the person really wants. So your mind starts spinning with potential excuses for why you can’t do something extra: “I think I have some family stopping by, so we’re going to be staying home and preparing for guests.” Don’t lie. If you’re not doing anything on Saturday because you’re beat and just want to lounge around the house, say so. “I’m going to be doing absolutely nothing on Saturday, and I can’t wait to do that.” If the person says, “Well can I get a ride,” jump to your answer. “No.” Keep it simple. Either you help or you don’t. Most of us help sometimes but not always. It’s okay to just say, “no.” sometimes, and it’s not being mean. You’re giving someone respect by being honest. You’re giving him or her the chance to solve his problem, and your honest answer implies you know he or she is capable of solving that problem.
Do I look fat?
I think what people care about most when they ask if they look fat is whether they look attractive or not. Listen, I know I am fat. I don’t need to ask, but if I did, my real concern would be, “Are you embarrassed to be seen with me?” or “Do I look like I’m too fat to wear something like this?” “Will you be cheating on me because of what I look like?” The real truth is that fat people generally don’t ask the question. It’s only when someone is self-conscious, and we’re all self-conscious to a degree. Be honest, “I have no idea what your standard of “fat” is, so maybe you are. I don’t think so, though. I think you’re beautiful.” That said, if the person really is large, why is fat an insult? Think about that. “You’re not skinny, if that’s what you wanna know. I’m pretty sure you know that. I love the way you look though,” works. In the rare case where someone is wearing something that actually doesn’t look good, say so. “You’re not fat, but that skirt looks weird on you.” Giving a full-on introductory summary to avoid saying the truth means that the truth is bad.
Can you work this weekend?
Don’t lie to your boss. If you can’t work or don’t want to work extra hours, say so. I know the boss generally doesn’t ask: he or she says, “I need you to work.”. Be a team player. Work when you can. Help out your co-workers, but when you’re tired or worn out, it’s okay to be honest. Don’t lie to your boss about what you’re doing to make it seem like you’ve got some important event you can’t miss. Word gets around sometimes.
When you accidentally mention the movie you saw on Saturday when you were supposedly at a great-aunt’s funeral, your boss might feel stinked-out by your lie. I’m not saying you shouldn’t go above and beyond your normal work routine. You should be a willing participant in the success of your company, but sometimes (and I’ve been there), some of us end up working two weeks in a row with no break. Sometimes we work long hours all the time and the boss becomes dependent on our general eagerness to get in more hours. If you’re a good worker, have confidence in yourself and don’t lie. “I’m not going to work this weekend,” is all you have to say. You don’t need an excuse, even if you have one. If the boss asks “why,” just say, “I care about what we do, but I’m just not going to come in this weekend.” Wash, rinse, and repeat your “no.” The more you say, the longer the conversation will be in which the boss will pry into your “excuse” and try to break you down.
Honesty is a compliment, because it means you have trust that the other person is capable of handling the truth. Plow right into the truth with some tact. The more you say leading up to the truth, the more you’re saying, “what I have to say is going to make you mad,” and that message sets the mood that what you’re going to say is worse than it really should be. “There are no discounts I can offer you right now.” “Your poem could use some more imagery.” “I’m not going to give you a ride.” Say the truth you need to say without any judgment nor pretext.