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My husband and I have wrestled with this over the last 15 years. There are several problems with 'truth'. One is that the truth is often subjective. Secondly, as in the example of the husband and wife talking above, there is a subtext. Answering the question 'truthfully' frequently misses the subtext, which is often the important part. In the case of talking to your spouse, the story your wife is telling may well be boring, even to her. What she wants is your attention. She wants the feeling of being listened to. And the content doesn't really matter. In this context, silence is not good. Answering the question truthfully is not good. No one will feel good about the exchange because the subtext is still sitting there. A better approach can be to switch to a topic that you are both (truthfully) interested in. As in "Well, I'm not really interested in the details of that. I'm wondering how we're going to get everything done this weekend." or "how soon we can take the babies out for Thai food", or anything else you might both share an interest in. The other thing about truth is that there is often a time and place for it. I can't be truthful when my 9 yr old asks me if his piano playing is 'good'. If I say 'your timing sucks', it's absolutely true, but also cruel and out of place. He needs my support in order to keep practicing. At the moment, I'm trying to be very thoughtful and carefully point out at least one good thing and point out only one spot to focus on improving. This is, um, challenging.
Toggle Commented May 2, 2012 on Trust Me, I'm Lying at Coding Horror
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May 2, 2012