NEW DAY NEW LESSON » communication, Emotions, Lesson of the Day » Some Words Are Lies More Often Than Not

Some Words Are Lies More Often Than Not

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Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed how many times the same phrase or two gets repeated over and over again in everyday conversation. I’ve noticed how people in all kinds of circumstances and from all walks of life choose to reply to inquiries using variations of those same phrases.

 

Maybe it’s my line of work, my own sensitivity or maybe what I’ve noticed is actually reality. What I’ve noticed is how some answers are simply more accepted than others. We give the standard and acceptable answer. We choose the easy and non-messy answer and way too often we’re not even challenged.

 

We have so many reasons for taking the easy way out. Sometimes it’s justified, other times not.

 

Sometimes, we just don’t have the energy to expand on our feelings. Sometimes we know the people asking us aren’t really interested in a truthful answer. Sometimes we ourselves are in denial.

 

Whatever our reason, our “go to” answers have turned to habit. Our short, simple and standard answers have turned into a habit that’s hard to break.

 

“It’s okay.”  He answers.

But is it really? Because the tense posture, the stiff jaw and the distracted look tell me something else. What I see and hear is: “I’m upset.” “I feel put out.” “I don’t really want to do that.” “I have no choice.

 

“I’m fine.” She answers.

But are you really? Because the sad eyes, the deflated demeanor and the quivering voice tell me something else. What I see and hear is:  “I’m worried.” “I’m tired.” “I’m anxious.” “I’m falling apart.” “I wish someone would help me and hold me up.”

 

We are so used to asking people “How are you?” or “How are things going?” without really ever intending to give them the courtesy of listening to their answer, let alone hearing the real answer behind their answer.

 

And yes, sometimes it is okay and sometimes we are fine. Sometimes the answer we give is the whole truth and not a half truth or a lie.

 

But how many times do we hide behind those words and used them to avoid giving a really truthful answer?

 

How often do you find yourself answering by rote? And more importantly why?

 

This post was written to link up to YeahWrite challenge. There are lots of other great posts there. Check them out.
read to be read at yeahwrite.me

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I am me and also lots of other things like a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a daughter in law, a sister in law, a friend, an oncology nurse, a blogger, a life coach in training, an avid book reader, a chauffeur, a chef, a shopper, a maid and on some days a bit overwhelmed. On this blog I share my journey of striving to see the best in everyone and everything. Strive, because I don't always manage to. Yup, I am human. I would love to have you join me in learning lessons in positivity from life.

Filed under: communication, Emotions, Lesson of the Day · Tags: , , ,

51 Responses to "Some Words Are Lies More Often Than Not"

  1. Erin @Momfog says:

    I think a lot of people just don’t want to bother people with their problems. Or maybe they feel like their problems aren’t important. It is sad, especially when you find out someone was NOT fine and something awful has happened.

    1. Susie says:

      I find that I have been questioning peoples’ I’m fine answers lately. If I see something in a person’s eyes or hear their tone of voice and it differs from what they are saying, I will ask “are you sure? because that sounded like a half hearted “fine”.

      Often people will then change their answer but even if they don’t, they know I “saw” them. I think that acknowledgement itself makes a difference.

  2. Joe says:

    What about rote questions? How many times does we ask a question where we really don’t care about the answer?

    1. Susie says:

      That’s why I have been trying to just say hi, instead of asking questions.

  3. So true. Many times, I have said those phrases for various reasons – that the person asking is not really interested, or that I’m not interested in sharing my truth. Perhaps it’s time to rephrase a question if you truly want to know how someone is? Be more specific perhaps?

    1. Susie says:

      The more specific is definitely a good idea. How was work today? How are you feeling today?…..

      1. pam says:

        I so agree with this. Having been in customer service for the past 40 years, there has been so much of this “how are you” “fine thanks” does anyone care , that is sometimes for the sake of brevity, that if you do care, you might start being more specific and then you may actually find out their truth

  4. Mayor Gia says:

    Yep, I do…I tend to answer that way when I don’t wanna talk to the person, and it’s just a formality. I’ll vary the answer (in a way that leads to more discussions) if I WANT to keep talking to them..

    1. Susie says:

      Which goes back to Joe’s point above…Why do we ask so many rote questions?

  5. I sit in Mayor Gia’s camp. It’s a glib answer when you don’t care to share any personal information with the person.

    1. Susie says:

      But isn’t it fun sometimes to really throw the person and launch into a whole detailed explanation of everything that is bothering you??? :-)

  6. Delilah says:

    I feel the same as Mayor Gia and Your Doctor’s Wife. I do it when I don’t want to talk about it or when it’s someone I’m not comfortable with. I tend to keep most of my emotions inside anyway so pouring it all out is hard.

    1. Susie says:

      I think what bothers me about answering I’m fine when I am not is that maybe it is not being truly honest. A more honest reply would be, “I have a lot going on, thank you for asking but I don’t really want to talk about it.” Though in that case, for you it is still exposing emotions.

  7. Carrie says:

    Oh so very true. I think its hard to express tough emotions because we know its just as hard for people to respond appropriately. You really have to trust the person you are confiding in, and know that they will act without judgement and offer help without expectation.

    1. Susie says:

      We often don’t realize that when people share things with us they don’t want us to solve their problems. They just want us to listen.

    2. pam says:

      I so agree with this. Having been in customer service for the past 40 years, there has been so much of this “how are you” “fine thanks” does anyone care , that is sometimes for the sake of brevity, that if you do care, you might start being more specific and then you may actually find out their truth

    3. pam says:

      I totally agree with you. I am from NY so you might actually get more out of me than fine, but I now live in the south and my experience has been that they dont share their truth with anyone cept maybe family.

  8. Jfb57 says:

    I don’t think it’s lies so much as not having the energy to explain or not wanting to drain the enquirer.

    1. Susie says:

      You not having the energy is one thing. Why do you have to worry about “draining” the enquirer. They did ask. :-)

  9. heidi says:

    I’m with Gia, the doctor’s wife and Delilah. Sometimes I just don’t want to truly answer the question. If I want to talk, I’ll talk. And, of course, sometimes it depends on who is doing the asking. :)

    1. Susie says:

      So why not go the route of thank you for asking but I don’t really want to talk about what’s on my mind.

  10. Kenja Purkey says:

    I find myself just not wanting to put people out if I have a problem. I try to be optimistic and happy, even when I’m not because I don’t want to be a bother to anyone.

    And if I want to vent, I Twitter rant. :)

    1. Susie says:

      I don’t know that you can really get through and work through something that is bothering you (unless it is something really minor) by trying to cover it with happiness.

      We need to be able to acknowledge and feel those feelings. Feel the anger and then start to move through it. Feel the sadness or pain and then start to move through it.

      I think that by pushing aside the real emotion without acknowledging it and feeling it and giving it legitimacy, we can sometimes do ourselves more harm than good.

      That said, you can feel the feelings you have when you have a problem and still be optimistic that you can resolve them and work through them.

      Did that make any sense?

  11. Naomi says:

    I often think we say things because the words just slip out or that we don’t feel close enough to people emotionally to really say what we feel.

    1. Susie says:

      In other words, habit.

  12. Sometimes, I’m just hoping he can tell I’m not actually okay without my having to say it…

    (Dumb, right? Especially for a person my age.)

    1. Susie says:

      Are you talking about anyone in particular? :-)

      I think we women have a problem because we want people to read our minds. Some people have that intuitive gift, others don’t. But what we have to remember is that just because we told someone in words that we are angry or worried or sad or upset…it doesn’t lessen the love or support that they will then give.

  13. Vanessa says:

    I think we just give the expected answer to those questions. For the most part only your nearest and dearest want the true answer anyhow.

    1. Susie says:

      So true, which is why in many countries it is not acceptable to ask someone “how are you?” unless you have the time and willingness to listen to a long heartfelt answer.

  14. I remember the day after my Godfather died, and I was shopping for a dress to wear to his funeral. I was so torn up inside, holding back tears, completely sickened at the last few days’ events. I went to check out and the cashier asked me, “How are you doing today?” With a smile, I replied, “I’m fine, thank you.” I remember the moment that it came out of my mouth, I wanted to take it back. I was in pain, and I wanted it to be acknowledged, by everyone, by anyone, even the cashier at Kohl’s Department Store.

    Great post.

    1. Susie says:

      Imagine what her reaction would have been had you started crying and said my grandfather dies and this is the dress for his funeral. I know if I was the cashier I would have given you a hug. But then again I have been known to give strangers hugs…

  15. Adrienne says:

    I think about this all the time. Do people Really want to know how I am? Do I really want to tell them? I don’t know.

    1. Susie says:

      What would make you change your answer from I don’t know?

  16. I think we tend to say “I’m fine” because really no one wants to hear about the bad stuff you might be going through. I tend to think it’s just a greeting convention and people really aren’t asking the question so to answer it might surprise them.

    1. Susie says:

      How do we know someone doesn’t want to hear until we tell them?

      It has turned into a greeting like hi and I don’t like it. Why not just “great seeing you, have a great day”

  17. nikkiana says:

    I remember taking a German class in college and having a conversation about language and customs with the professor and one of her observations of American English had been that we use the phrase “How are you?” so frequently and with people whom we are not well acquainted with that it has a closer meaning to “Hello” than to be an actual legitimate question. And I think she had a point… I feel the reason why I tend to tell people I’m fine when asked is because they’re asking out of formality, not because they actually want to hear the real answer.

    1. Susie says:

      I say we start a movement to answer people honestly. Bet you people will go back to just saying hi. :-)

  18. Ado says:

    Me? Answering by rote? Oh, all the time!
    I once heard a saying: “Fine” is an acronym for effed up, insecure, needy and some other word I can’t remember that begins with E. Everybody uses it – I don’t think our general population in society allows for us to go much deeper than “fine” on most occasions, sadly.

    1. Susie says:

      Think fine stands for Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional.

      I think the first step is just being conscious when we speak. what do you think?

  19. Such a great post, because it is so true. People ask, but they don’t want to know. And people answer, but they don’t want to say. Cycle, rinse, repeat.

    1. Susie says:

      So the question is whether this will now make you think more?

      And is the phrase cycle, rinse, repeat something that is catching on lately? I have seen it a lot recently. I like it though.

  20. What about when someone says “Don’t worry about it”, though they obviously are and think you should, too?

    1. Susie says:

      LOL. I have a feeling we could build quite a long list of things we say that we should probably not bother to.

  21. So, so true. I’ve always felt that a true friend, one who really knows me will say, “No you’re not,” when I say that I’m fine. Great piece.

  22. What a great point. I think as a culture we are so uncomfortable with genuine feeling and emotion that a true answer just plain scares the poop out of us. So we fake and go rote. Great thing to think about!

    1. Susie says:

      Why do you think we are so uncomfortable with feelings and emotions?

  23. Great question. I wish I understood. I think we are all buried under over-spending, over-internetting, over eating, over drinking that genuine emotion is locked way down. I am not sure. For me, my mom was not a big fan of emotions so I learned to tamp it down. That didn’t work so now I don’t.

    1. Susie says:

      Since becoming a mom and especially since two of my sons are now of legal age, I chuckle every time someone “blames” something on their mother’s actions. (And don’t worry, I do my share of it too.) Why? Because I know that I am a mom and I will be blamed for all the things my kids don’t want to cope with or explore.

      Of course I have made my share of mistakes and still do, but at some point we have to say, okay, this is what we are exposed to growing up. It’s not helpful to me-what am I going to do to change it.

      As far as emotions-if you haven’t read this post of mine-you might like it. http://www.newdaynewlesson.com/be-vulnerable/

  24. Shannon says:

    Nice post. It made me think about when I lived in the Czech Republic for a year long ago. One of the first phrases I wanted to learn was “How are you?”. It took me months to realize that people there don’t use it like we do. They ask “how are you?” when they actually want to know, when they are concerned about someone and when they have time to listen to a real response. It’s not a rote greeting.

  25. Funny – someone just posted a thing on facebook about what phrases “really” mean: “fine” means nope, I’m pissed; “don’t worry about it” means you’re in deep shit,and so on. The FB post was funny – but I do wonder where comes the fear or hesitation about saying what’s really behind the words?

  26. I am guilty of doing this. But I have to say in most cases I try to be a good listener if things aren’t always so great, and when people ask me? Or at least the people I am close friends with, I respond honestly. But love the idea of this post and very good points you’ve made.

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