WOW Word-Of-the-Week #442: Honest

January 24, 2013 by · Comments Off on WOW Word-Of-the-Week #442: Honest 

Honesttruthful: displaying integrity.

Do you think it is okay to tell a “little white lie?” Have you ever caught someone not being truthful? What did you do about it?

This week’s WOW is courtesy of Lance Armstrong who finally admitted to using performance enhancing drugs. LA Times featured a front page article by Melissa Healy titled, “LIKE HIM, WE ARE ALL LIARS: Armstrong’s deceit is not so different from ours, experts say.” She writes, “Though we profess to hate it, lying is common, useful and pretty much universal. It is one of the most durable threads in our social fabric and an important bulwark of our self-esteem. We start lying by the age of 4 and we do it at least several times a day, researchers have found. And we get better with practice.”

Robert Feldman, dean of social and behavioral sciences at the University of Massachusetts, is a leading researcher on lying. He says, “People lie because it works. We get away with it all the time. Usually they’re minor: ‘I love your tie.’ ‘You did a great job.’ But in some cases they’re bigger, and in Armstrong’s case, he was pretty sure he could get away with it.”

Healy goes on to say, “It’s not easy to lie, deceit requires mental exertion for most of us. The effort to reconcile a lie with the truth takes a huge amount of brain power. To lie in the first place, as well as to keep the going over time, requires two things: motivation and justification. Whether the motivation is money, fame, status, or the high esteem of others, it must be counterbalanced with enough justification that we can sustain our image of ourselves as good people.”

 “For Lance the decision to lie could have been easy. With much to gain – and hence high motivation – he could tell himself he was inspiring people with his story of triumph over cancer; that he was using his fame and money to help cancer patients and find a cure; that he was universally admired for his grit and his skill as an athlete and a team leader. And he probably drew on these lofty accomplishments to justify his denial of using performance enhancing drugs.”

Mark Twain said, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” I don’t like to lie and so I don’t. My integrity is too important! I came up with a rule for my 94 year-old dad several years ago. And that is “there are no rules.” If you want to make plans and change your mind that is OK. You won’t hurt my feelings. I say that to our grand-kids too.

This week’s focus is being honest. Do you feel a need to tell a “little white lie” for fear of hurting someone’s feelings? How much time do you spend “making up a story? How would it feel to just tell the truth?

Reader Responses

“I have told lies in the past to keep people from getting hurt. So, I have a rationale, just like Lance Armstrong. What we see more of in our time are the lies of omission. Where someone – it could be a politician, a celebrity an athlete – is asked a general question that does not get at the real truth – and either answers it or finds a way not to answer it. Politicians are great at talking around questions, instead of actually answering the question. Many times the questions are too general, leaving a way out for the politician. So, he or she can say that when I was asked the question, I answered it. As you noted in your post, Lance Armstrong justified his behavior by all of those people he was helping with Livestrong. But even if he did not win those races, he could still have helped people with his organization. He would have been revered and even more respected had he not won seven Tours de France in a row. The fact that he prepared, practiced and competed year in and year out would have impressed enough people all over the world. Many athletes use the same rationalizations when it comes to their private lives. And it is too bad. We need more athletes like the late St. Louis Cardinal Hall of Famer Stan Musial, who was the first Major League player to earn $100,000 in a season. After a less than stellar 1963 season, he told the St. Louis management that he had not performed up to his expectations for the season. He GAVE BACK 20 percent of his salary to management. I don’t think there are any players today who would do that. Lies do catch up to all of us, especially if we keep inventing new ones to cover the old ones. If we can be straightforward the first time, we don’t have to worry ourselves about what we said and when. We will sleep a lot better at night and live a longer, happier life.” –  “Warrior” Joe