No sugar coating or white lies: A miserable experiment in truth-telling

d as aI decided to only say the truth and nothing but the truth for a 24-hour perio form of social experiment

Mimi Raad

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Have you heard of the Pheme project? It is a 36-month research project, commissioned by the EU, into establishing the veracity of claims made on the internet.

The project is named after the Greek Goddess Pheme who was famed for her wrath due to her peddling for scandalous rumors.

Inspired by this research attempt, I decided to only say the truth and nothing but the truth for a 24-hour period as a form of social experiment. Armed with honesty and candidness, I started my day.

9:00: A friend sends me a WhatsApp message with a picture of her outfit of the day. My reply was straight- forward and negative. I didn’t hear from her for the rest of the day.

9:10 While putting on my makeup, I realized that makeup is sort of like lying…I opted for just mascara (What woman would want to be caught completely makeup free in the fashion business?) It was, I contended, a white lie.

9:45: A friend posted a picture of herself on Facebook. In the midst of all the “looking fab” comments, I couldn’t help writing: “I’ve seen you under better light!”

10:00: On my way to the office, I bump into a colleague who shows me a picture of two different pairs of shoes she was wondering about buying. I say neither because they will not suit her style. She gives me a suspicious look.

10:30: A renowned TV presenter steps into the office to show me her latest buy: An orange top she can’t wait to wear on air. I discourage her, explaining bluntly that she should ban this color from her closet as her skin and hair color don’t match with orange. She secretly puts a spell on me and leaves the office, fuming.

11:30: Time for coffee. My assistant offers to order one from a nearby coffee shop. While doing so I notice that her shoes don’t suit her outfit and tell her so.

12:30: Still no coffee. I suspect my assistant cancelled the order after my remark.

12:37: I prepare a coffee mug and try to relax while checking my email. One of the hairdressers from the Image Department hurries inside the office to show me a hairdo he did for one of the TV anchors. I glance up from my computer and shake my head. He stands there with a question mark on his face. I tell him, bluntly, that what he did is hideous. He leaves, speechless.

12:45: In the elevator, a colleague proudly shows me her recent blepharoplasty. I tell her it changed the shape of her eyes. She couldn’t disagree more and leaves the elevator fuming.

13:00: On my way to the restaurant for lunch, I wonder if I will survive a full day of truth telling. My honesty is not being appreciated.

13:15: A Dubai police car follows me. I admit I was on the phone while driving. They salute my honesty and let me go after I promise to be more careful. Honesty finally pays off!

14:45: I drop by my hairdresser for a quick blow dry. He asks me if I liked the haircut he did for a friend. I say no. He repays me by doing a horrible job on my hair.

15:30: I start thinking about all the small lies I’ve said in my life that have made the people around me happy.

15:45: Still working the “truth oath” in my staff meeting, I go around the table, clearly pointing out to each member what I really think about their work and what my expectations of them are.

16:45: Everybody is on “alert mode,” avoiding me like the plague. I offer them a round of coffee and switch gears to a lighter, more encouraging tone with more positive feedback. People start to relax and I can feel a burgeoning cheerfulness in the air.

My day-long experiment in truth telling failed. It made me and the people around me miserable. Masking the tough truth with kind words and finding a nicer way to say unpleasant things is much easier to say and accept.

I vowed to be more diplomatic in voicing my opinions. That does not mean I will not continue to be frank and say out loud what I think, but a little sugar coating goes a long way.