It isn’t always nice to be nice

By Ginni Jones


I bet that in the past week, you’ve said or heard at least one of the following statements:

“honestly, …”

“{insert question here}…? You can be honest.”

“Well, if I’m being honest…{insert opinion here}”


“This is going to sound mean, but it’s true…”

Haven’t you? And you’ve probably heard them more than once. These are common phrases in our day-to-day; you can hear them in any conversation, between any age group, regarding any subject. They’re everywhere. Does anyone else notice this problem? When did honesty become something that people needed permission to use? When did it become necessary to specify situations in which we were being honest?

Somewhere along the road to these lives driven by social media, we have turned into individuals who only show the best parts of our lives. We only release the best pictures, the sweetest statuses, and the funniest tweets to the interweb. Because of this, we get caught up in this idea of a picture perfect world, where being nice and keeping peace is more important than being honest. But this isn’t the way we were made to be. Being honest doesn’t have to be paired with creating chaos. We can be honest and express ourselves without doing it in such a way that hurts other people’s feelings or deflates their self-worth.

The other day, a friend of mine asked me a question. She said, “do you want to see the new shirt that I got?” I took an extremely long time to think about my answer. I had two options: I could be nice and say “yes,” pretending to care about her recent purchase. Answering dishonestly would make her feel good, but it would also make her think that I was invested in her shopping trips. It would mean that from now own, she would come home from buying something and show it to me. Or, I could answer honestly and say “no,” which is what I did. I told her that I didn’t want to see her new shirt, but that if she wanted to show it to me I would look at it. And guess what! She wanted to show it to me! I walked with her to her closet, looked at the shirt, and told her that I thought that it was cute. All of that was honest. And I didn’t have to say, “I’m being honest,” because she already knew.

I bet as you’re reading this, you’re thinking about how much of a terrible friend I am. I mean, I ended up looking at the shirt anyway, didn’t I? And boy was I really mean when I told her I didn’t want to see her new shirt, wasn’t I? That’s the problem- being honest has come to be synonymous with being rude. But here’s the difference: one day, the issue at hand will be something more important than looking at a new shirt. If I can’t be honest about whether or not I want to see a new shirt, how will I ever be honest about things that might REALLY tear people down?

Have you ever been called a tease? If you have, the chances that you meant to tease that certain individual are probably pretty low. Think about it- why did they call you a tease? I’ll answer it for you…it’s because you were too busy being nice to worry about being honest. Think about these questions for a second:

“Do you want to go see a movie with me?”

“Would you maybe want to get dinner sometime?”

“Let’s hang out, what do you say?”

“Could I have your number so I can text you sometime?”

Now, imagine that these questions are being asked of you by a guy or gal who is incredibly sweet, pretty good looking, the perfect person to introduce to your friend group or your parents…but you’re just not into them and there’s about a 0% chance that you’ll change your mind. How would you answer him or her?

In my own experience, I would probably respond with an excuse of some sort… “yeah I’d love to but I’m really busy from now until the apocalypse;” sure, here’s my number” *queue ignoring texts and calls from this person*; “um yeah let me just figure out a time that works for me and I’ll let you know” *never lets him/her know.* The list could go on forever. We aren’t the offenders here; we’re just trying to be nice, right?

Right. “Trying” is the key word there, because we try but it doesn’t work. Being “nice” but dishonest lets others think that they’re in a different spot or situation than they’re actually in. Although being honest straight out might leave feelings hurting for a little while, folks can’t get mad at you for being honest.

I got a text message a few weeks ago from a guy who had gotten very angry at me for telling him that I wasn’t going to sleep with him. I was confused because based on my experience with him, he had been extremely chivalrous up until that point. His response was this: “What’s the point in being chivalrous these days? That’s the reason I thought we were gonna go ahead and go farther, because I’ve done the right things.” I was astonished. I mean, I had to respect the guy’s honesty. As much as I wanted to be mad at him for that, I couldn’t. If he had pretended that he had been chivalrous for chivalry’s sake, I would have eventually discovered that he had an ulterior motive. THEN, I could have been upset that he lied to me. Because he didn’t, I spent a few days fuming over how I felt like I had been tricked. Then I got over it because in the end, at least he was honest.

If you ask the questions, don’t get mad at an honest answer. If you give a “nice” dishonest answer, don’t get upset when you end up in a situation that you don’t want to be in.

TL,DR: Try to make a point to always answer questions honestly. We – myself included – are too sensitive to opinions that are different than ours. If you ask a question, be open to the possibility that you might get an answer that you don’t want to hear. If that does happen, be THANKFUL for the friend who would rather that you know the truth than to tell a little white lie. After a while, it will become obvious that the friends who are honest with you even when it hurts are the kinds of friends that you want to have.

Check out more of Ginni Jones writings on O.B.Y
DIY: Hiding Hickeys
On The Go Must Have



  1. Pingback: Are you sure you’re “busy”? | SoshiTech

  2. My observations of social media have been different actually – it seems that people are happy to be “honest” about how much they despise the other person, which is why Facebook became way too drama-filled. Perhaps the problems are connected though: people don’t know how to be honest with each other in a polite way (i.e. without treating the other person poorly but simply disagreeing). They also don’t know how to accept honesty as you said. So in social media there are two extremes – keep it all puppies and kittens and Pinterest, or devolve into personal attacks over politics and religion. We lack an ability to disagree honestly in a civil way.

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