What I’m about to discuss may cross the boundary of morality and ethics, so please read this with an open mind.
“Communication is key in a relationship.”
I find this quote more applicable than “be honest with your feelings”, whether it’s maintaining a relationship or making friends. Although what I said may frame me as someone that’s ingenuine and dishonest, I’d like you to hold your judgement until after you finish reading this chapter.
For instance, we often overlook the fact that our first-impressions for a job interview are mostly ingenuine. Some attempt to show the best side of themselves by having a neat attire and present their thoughts as eloquent as possible. Most people fake their confidence and be the person they think the employer wants. Is this not being dishonest?
Society tend to impose double-standards for job applications and blind-dates. It’s acceptable to lie when applying for jobs than to lie on your first date. Looking at the bigger picture, you realise that faking your resume may land you on a job but may also hinder, or even drag-down the rest of the business due to your lack of competence and experience. In this sense, don’t you think that it’s far worse to lie in a job application than to break someone’s heart? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is not as clear-cut as we’d want it. The reason being the fact that humans are irrational and emotional by nature, which makes us create biased perceptions of the world.
As humans with emotions, we have emotional ties that drives us to act against our morals. This is especially true when we have a goal in mind that we want to achieve. The more crucial the goal is, the more we tend to rationalise our dishonest behaviour and provide reasons to convince ourselves. This situation is the reason why we have “white lies”.
White lies can be defined as lies that are either trivial, or done to protect another person’s feelings. Regardless whether or not you accept this as a form of deceit worth bashing on, we must admit that we do this quite often. We try to avoid long arguments and potential fights by letting a comforting lie slip by our mouth… and I completely support this.
From this point onwards, I’m setting aside my personal beliefs and will focus solely on achieving our original objective: to make friends. When we first meet a stranger, we are not aware of their emotional stability and how well they respond to criticism in general. We may portray ourselves as a “know-it-all” that stands on a high pedestal, or simply judgmental, if we criticise someone without second thoughts. After knowing this fact, how are we supposed to apply this knowledge?
My answer is:
We must be (or try to be) open-minded, and assume that the other person is close-minded.
This is possibly the safest approach, and what I believe to be the most effective approach. By being open-minded, we are welcoming the other person to have casual discussions and a freer exchange of information. Assuming the other person to be close-minded, we will be cautious of what we say and filter them, whether it be facts or opinions. Keep in mind that we are not yet aware of their background and way of thinking. Like what I’ve explained in keeping boundaries, we shouldn’t reveal too much of ourselves. As time goes by, we’ll be able to gauge their point of view and start revealing more depending on the situation.
What happens if they become curious and attempt to ask you a personal question that leads to an unpleasant conversation? You could simply say no. If they don’t take no for an answer, this is the situation where I believe white lies are useful and acceptable. If it makes you feel any better, they’re imposing something on you that you’re not obliged to do. As long as the lie is trivial and does not hurt the other person in any way, nor will it hurt them once they find out about the truth (not necessarily hurt because you lied), I personally think it’s justifiable.
Some of you are rolling your eyes in annoyance reading my article and have the strong urge to ask me “What if somebody lied to you?”. To be honest, I’m fine with it. I believe everyone has their own reason to lie, and I leave it based on their discretion to pick apart what they should tell me and what they should keep hidden. I also don’t pry into other people’s problems, because on some occasions, ignorance is bliss. So yes, I’m fine with people telling me white lies; I appreciate the thought.
There’s a reason why most relationships fail because of miscommunication, and not mistrust. Some people are not able to properly gauge their transparency and filter out the wrong things. It does pay off to plan ahead what you want to say and set your own parameter as to what you should or shouldn’t say.
I’d like to remind you once again, that I’m aware how my view on this is biased, despite my attempt to make the article as objective as possible. I’m not a professional and not qualified to dictate what’s right and wrong. I’m merely trying to express my thoughts and give insights on this topic. Please take what you read above with a pinch of salt.