The Word Honesty. Is It Overused?

Why do so many people, particularly those being interviewed on the Net, TV, and radio use the word “honest” or variations of, so frequently?

A typical response by a celebrity or a politician or a writer (as a few examples) when being asked a question is to preface their response with one of the following:

To be honest with you, etc.

Honestly?  Etc.

Or; and I love these ones.

To be perfectly honest with you, etc.

To be quite honest with you, etc.

Or this one that in my opinion, is the worst of all.

I’m going to be 100% completely honest with you.

Would you REALLY believe a person who is telling you that what they are about to say is honest? I remember my father telling me that if a person is going to tell you upfront they are honest, keep your wallet in your pocket and run for the hills! 

Why does a person feel the need to use a variation of the word “honest” when prefacing an answer to a question? It is so prevalent today, particularly amongst so-called “personalities”.  What are they trying to say?  I know this is an old response but it is very valid; are they saying that by prefacing their response to the interviewer’s question with the word “honest” or some variation of that they have not been honest up to that point?   I have become so irritated by the use of this very valuable word that I am turned off by a person as soon as they use this silly preface.

Regardless of the reasons given by anyone, it makes no sense to tell someone that what you are going say is honest. Basically, it’s the same thing as saying “ Surprise! I’ve been dishonest with you all along. Up until this moment that is, so that being said, you can now trust me when I say what I am now going to say.”

Unfortunately, it has become so ingrained in our everyday language that it appears to be here to stay. 

Sometimes a politician (Donald Trump for example) is about to tell a bald-faced lie and believes that by delivering a disclaimer such as “I am being 100% honest with you” that his response to a question asked or a request for a statement will be better believed. 

Then there are those who say, “I’m not going to lie to you”.  Do they really feel they are earning your trust by making such a statement? Would you believe this person without question or would alarm bells go off? 

Therefore, what exactly is honesty?  The best definition from the web describes honesty as follows: Integrity is telling myself the truth. Honesty is telling the truth to other people. Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth-telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving. No legacy is so rich as honesty. It takes strength and courage to admit the truth. Honest people don’t hide their deeds and have no need to proclaim their honesty. Beware those who do!

If you are guilty of this practice of prefacing your answers or statements in this way, try and break the habit. You will come across as more credible to those you wish to do business with or establish relationships with. As with any bad habit, it won’t be easy – but please, give it a go.

If you have any comments, disagreements, or additional information on this post, please contact me either through Pippies, or through my website.


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Written by Michael Trigg

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