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What do you mean?

I walked in and this conversation was well underway so I can't tell you what went before. What I can tell you is that certain phrases used carelessly may not have the desired effect.

Casey, Anne's guest, had just drawn a breath and was about to continue with her story, "To be completely honest with you ..."

"Stop!" Anne interrupted. "What do you mean when you say you are going to be completely honest with me?"

Casey looked taken aback. "I'm going to tell you the absolute truth. Why?"

"I expect people to be honest and truthful with me at all times. When you use phrases like "to be completely honest," or "tell the absolute truth", it suggests that sometimes, or maybe even most of the time, you don't. It could also mean that you are going to confess something and there are a few other meanings for this phrase."

Casey was stunned. "I never thought of that. Of course, I am honest with you and I tell you the truth. Why would I tell you anything else? I guess I was trying to emphasize ... oh, now that I think about it, I don't even know what I was trying to do," remarked Casey.

"Communication, communication, communication. It is our greatest challenge in life. We must be mindful of what we say and take care to say what we mean." Anne went on,

"This is very important, Casey. I know some people will not be concerned but others, including me, will wonder whether they can trust you. It would be a shame to compromise your integrity over what may seem to be a "throw-away phrase."

"It will take mindfulness and discipline to modify your vocabulary - I know because it did for me - and it will take a little time. It will be worth the effort to preserve your own integrity," said Anne with an encouraging smile.

As you can see, this interchange demonstrates the importance of taking care when you speak to be certain you are saying what you mean.

1 Comment

Kelly Ann McKnight
Kelly Ann McKnight
Jul 02, 2021

Oh this is SOO true! When people say, "I want to be completely honest..." it automatically makes me wonder if and when they are not being completely honest. For many of us this is just an expression we use but we probably should avoid it and just be honest, period. Thx for this Anne.

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