To Tell the Truth

I’ve heard the adage “always tell the truth, it’s easiest to remember” credited to several people. I’m not sure who first said it–I know Mark Twain said something close–but I believe it. I have a good memory, but if I were to get wrapped up in a serious lie, I’m sure I’d trip myself up at some point.

I try to be honest, and most of the time, I am. Still, when I went on an online diet recently, I lied about what I’d eaten. Too embarrassing to put it in print. I don’t mind saying that here because I’m not confessing to too much, but I sure didn’t want to tell the anonymous people who might be reviewing my food diary. So I quit that diet and I’m trying something else. Not particularly successfully, but with greater success than I had with that program.

Well, now, here I go. I have had more success lately, but the word “greater” might be misleading. “Slightly more” would be the more accurate term. I wasn’t lying, but I understand how easy it is to fall into deception.

It hurts me when friends or family think I’ve lied to them, especially since I usually haven’t in the way they think I have. I may have at other times–like I said, I’m honest most of the time–but not the times of which they’re accusing me. And once someone is convinced you’re lying, all the proof in the world won’t change their mind. At least, that’s my experience.

We live in a cynical world, and people would rather believe someone is lying than be caught believing said liar told the truth. There are some exceptions–some people will believe others can only tell the truth, when all the evidence points to the exact opposite. 

How do we discern the truth? Obviously, past history is a great way to predict the future. Also, most people, and I’m including those who are basically honest, have a tell when they lie, and a little experience can teach us what that might be. And let’s not discount listening to our gut.

tell the truth text engraved on old wooden signpost outdoors in

I heard a famous author promoting his book about human behavior (and I’m not sure I remember who it is–Malcolm Gladwell, perhaps?) and he said something that went against everything I’d been told: there is no certain way to tell is someone is lying or being honest. We’ve all heard about common human behaviors that will tell others what’s going on, but apparently, there’s no scientific backup for that. 

Bottom line, we can only control our own words and actions. So be honest–it’s not only the easiest thing to remember, it’s what others will remember about you.


Image Credits: Boy with long nose © Michele Paccione, stock.adobe.com; Signposts © Jon Anders Wiken, stock.adobe.com.

That One’s On Me

“Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more.”
― Mark Twain

news searchBack when I was a reporter, there was a loyal yet somewhat annoying group of readers who picked apart every article and never hesitated to send us a daily critique of our mistakes, real or perceived. Somehow, I’d been lucky enough to miss out on most of their assessments. My fellow reporters, one in particular, made enough errors to keep them busy.

But one day it happened. I got the e-mail, or rather, my editor did. She called me in. “Sorry,” she said. “I don’t even know if he’s right or you’re right. Check your notes.”

I looked at the story. Damn. I’d made a mistake, pure and simple.

“Nope, it’s my mistake,” I told her. “I’ll return the e-mail.”

“Keep it short,” she advised. “Don’t say more than you have to.”

I kept it honest. “Dear Mr. Smith,” I wrote. “Thank you for your e-mail pointing out my error in today’s paper. You were right, it should read ‘this way‘ and not ‘that way.‘ While it’s not an excuse for my mistake, maybe a little explanation would help here. When I was writing the story, I thought the second sentence in paragraph three would work better if I switched it with the second sentence in paragraph two. The problem was, the transition sentence, the first sentence in paragraph three, was then incorrect. I apologize and we will run a correction in tomorrow’s paper.”

“Good luck,” the other reporters told me. “Mr. Smith is a jerk.”

smileys pixabayWell, so be it. I sent off the e-mail. Not three minutes later I received a call. It was Mr. Smith.

“I don’t care that you made the mistake,” he said. “We all make mistakes. But you’re the first reporter to admit it. I usually get a bunch of crazy excuses with the blame placed anywhere but on the reporter.”

I thanked Mr. Smith and smiled. It wasn’t the first mistake I’d made, and it likely wouldn’t be the last. But admitting it gave me the freedom to make more without someone calling me a fool, or losing their respect.

It also kept them off my back.

Image Credit: (Focus on the News) © GraphicStock

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