One hundred and eighty-one

Radical Honesty

Before I get into my not-so-pleasant day yesterday, in honour of radical honesty (and the fact that I’m cranky because it’s almost ‘that time’ of the month), I am sick of putting myself in uncomfortable situations.  I wish I could just take a day off.  Although it is getting harder to find things that are out of my comfort zone and I’ve done some very cool things I wouldn’t have done had I not been doing this experiment, I want to have a break from being my own guinea pig!

But alas, I cannot.  And on with the show…

Hungover from my few too many ‘liquid courages’ the night before, I was cranky and tired and couldn’t think of anything better to do than be brutally honest with everyone.  Who doesn’t want to spend their hangover day telling everyone exactly how they feel and what they think?  Especially when you’re going to work and serving a bunch of soccer hooligans and then a private party of cheap, rude idiots (the overly-drunk man snapping his fingers at me didn’t quite understand I wasn’t serving him until I told him it was time for him to go home).  And I might get in trouble for this rant from my place of employment.  If I do, I don’t really care.  People should have more respect for the people who help them – whether it be at the grocery store, the mechanics, the doctor’s office or a restaurant.  Everyone is just trying to do their jobs and although being tolerant and nice is part of working in customer service, we should not have to deal with ignorant a-holes.  Learn some manners and respect!

One man did come up to me near the end of the evening and asked me whether I was annoyed with all these drunk idiots that are his friends.  Normally I would say “no, it’s part of the job” with a smile and a laugh.  This time I said “yes, I’m tired and they are annoying”.  The guy laughed – I think that was the reaction he was looking for anyways.  And it felt pretty good to get it off my chest.  It was 2:30am and I was ready for home and bed.

Radical Honesty is a term based on the work and writings of Dr. Brad Blanton, a psychologist who found that the best way to reduce stress, make life work, and heal the past is to tell the truth.  A couple of quotes from his website:

  • “I recommend you hurt people’s feelings and stay with them past the hurt. I also recommend that you offend people. We can all get over having our feelings hurt and we can get over being offended. These are not permanent conditions; they are feelings that come and go. On the other side of that reaction is a conversation in which your mutual honesty creates an intimacy not possible if you are hiding something for the sake of someone’s feelings.”
  • “If the person’s outstandingly ugly, then that’s an issue I’m certainly going to bring up to talk about right off. I would say, “I think you look kind of ugly and this is what I think is ugly. I think that big wart on the left side of your face is probably something that puts people off and that you don’t have much of a love life, is that true?” Then we’ll have a conversation about it. That ugly person has probably always felt the negative unexpressed reaction from people. The idea is that they end up not avoiding the damn thing instead of living a life that’s dancing on egg shells. They live life out loud and it’s a whole lot better life.”
I first heard about Radical Honesty from A.J. Jacobs, and he does a much better job at explaining the ups and the pitfalls of the movement  (and interviews Dr. Blanton), so read his very entertaining article here if you are interested – I Think You’re Fat, Esquire, July 24, 2007.

Generally I am pretty honest, except when it comes to white lies that either help my job, make people feel good or get me something that I need.  Nothing major, just little fibs to help me get by and make everyone happy.  I can be blunt at times, but not radically honest, especially if it is going to hurt someone.  I would never tell someone I found them ugly.  But, I can see the freeing feeling that must come along with telling the truth all the time.

Unfortunately along with freedom comes stress.   When I told my boss the reason I was grumpy was because I drank too much at the swingers club the night before, it might have been too much information.  When I told a co-worker I thought he was attractive, he might have taken it the wrong way.  But I suppose if he would have been radically honest back about what he was feeling, there would be no miscommunication.  In a world where everyone tells the truth, you would never have to second-guess what they were saying and if it meant something else.

Nothing too hilarious happened during my day of radical honesty.  If I continued to live that way, though, I’m sure I would get into quite a few awkward situations.  And I think I would have to build up to being completely honest all the time.  Dr. Blanton doesn’t think you should have a filter between your mind and your mouth.  He thinks you should just say everything you are thinking.  I don’t think I want anyone to know everything I’m thinking.  And I don’t want to live my life in conflict, which is what would happen every time you told your friend she looked fat or told your boss you wake up every day wanting to quit.  You’d probably end up with less friends and unemployed!