Guest Column

The Slippery Slope of ‘Just Being Honest’

By
Rajen Garabadu

Have you ever found yourself wishing you could snatch your words right out of the air the moment they left your mouth?

Yeah, me too.

There’s a thin line between being refreshingly honest and tumbling headfirst into the “Oops, did I just say that out loud?” abyss. I’ve been the king of that tumble more times than I’d like to admit.

Imagine this: You’re at a pivotal moment where the stakes are high, and your words carry the weight of your future.

For my wife Gargi and me, it was a nursery interview for our daughter Sara — a scenario where every word mattered. Given the severe demand and supply mismatch, we applied to 16 schools. We received an interview call for only two. Thankfully, Gargi was an alumnus of one of them.

An interview call is no guarantee of securing admission. The final selection depends on a combination of the points your child has already accumulated based on several parameters — the most given to physical proximity of the school from home — and your performance at the interview.

We knew our chances were slim as we lived two miles away from the school. The odds were stacked against us. And yet, when asked if this school was our top choice, I blurted out a “No, ma’am,” with all the finesse of a bull in a china shop before diving into a monologue about our actual top pick.

In hindsight, a simple “Yes” might have sufficed, but honesty’s my middle name.

It wasn’t just about being truthful but not having the filter most people seem to possess.

Now that it was done, my wife didn’t see the point in dwelling on it on our way out.

But the anxiety gnawed at me, leading to an uncomfortable conversation on a flight with a colleague a few days later who couldn’t believe my bluntness.

“Are you crazy? Why would you say that?” she exclaimed.

And honestly? I had no good answer apart from clinging to my honesty like a life raft, even as it threatened to sink me.

The agony of waiting for the admission results was torturous. Had my compulsive need to be transparent jeopardised my daughter’s future?

When Honesty Pays Off… Barely

Sara’s name appeared on the admission list by some stroke of luck or fate.

Relief washed over me like a wave, but it was tinged with the realisation that things could have easily gone the other way. My honesty could have cost us dearly, but the experience left a lasting mark. It was a stark reminder that sometimes, the truth isn’t just inconvenient — it’s downright risky.

So, what’s the takeaway from my toe-curling experience?

That honesty is a double-edged sword. It’s about finding the balance between being truthful and knowing when to temper that truth tactfully.

Not everything we think needs to be said, and not every truth must be shared. There’s an art to knowing when to hold back for the sake of pragmatism.

Your Turn: Walking the Tightrope of Truth

How would you have navigated this tightrope?

Would you have opted for blunt honesty or choose a more diplomatic approach?

Sharing your thoughts could illuminate the diverse ways we handle these foot-in-mouth moments.

Let’s start a conversation about the power of our words and how we can wield them wisely. Because sometimes, the best way to be honest is to know when not to say everything we think. And that’s a lesson worth learning.

Have you ever been in a situation where being too honest backfired spectacularly?

I’d love to hear your story.

Rajen Garabadu

Chief Executive Producer, News18 Network. He blogs @ rajenreflects.com

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