If you ask me, anybody who is even trying to be honest is already doing good.

Unexpected honesty How finding it has changed me
Friday, July 10, 2020 - 22:55

Twelve years ago I chose to become a writer because honesty and integrity were two things that were very close to my heart. I wanted to tell true, real stories, to fight the spiral of inauthenticity that I saw the world sinking into. On May 12 this year, I realised that I had lost my faith in the truth somewhere along the way.

The word “post-truth” was added to the Oxford dictionary in 2016. It seems people at Oxford had also figured out what I had come to cynically believe - that people just don’t seem to think the truth is very important anymore.

Take for instance a piece on women’s Health that I was working on a few years ago. For a quote, I interviewed people who had been through the Health issues I wanted to write about. After I filed the article, my editor cross checked my sources and references, and came back to me saying that one of the people I had interviewed had never been sick. They just wanted their name in an article, their 15 seconds of fame.

I couldn’t believe my ears. 

Since then, I subconsciously began to learn how to read body language and micro-expressions. I watched online videos related to the subject, and got pretty good at it. Noticing voice inflection and subtle change in gestures became second nature to me. Soon, I wasn’t having a single conversation where I wasn’t involuntarily judging whether the person is telling the truth or not. 

I was initially surprised at how often people lie and for the most trivial matters, but then I accepted it.

I became set in my cynical ways.

But come this March, things started to unfurl for me. First, I met this young, upstart MLA who, contrary to my beliefs, was completely honest about the shortcomings of his office. He genuinely wanted to bring change and understood where he was lacking. He even spoke about his roadmap and things he’d be changing. But I swept it under the carpet as a one-off thing.

But then I saw honesty where I would have never expected any. During the lockdown, my internet was giving me some trouble. After spending days trying to avoid talking to a customer service executive who robotically reads from pre-approved script, I finally picked up the phone and expected the worst. 

I could feel myself slipping into a bad mood as the phone rang. But to my surprise, I was patched directly to the executive rather than wait forever and then instead of reading off of a script and telling me that my problems will be solved right away, he told me the truth! I felt my anger melt away immediately and shame overtake me for judging the person too harshly even before the hello was said.

He told me that they were a little understaffed then and it might take up to 2 days before somebody could come over and fix the problem. I really wasn’t expecting that. I recently saw this video Airtel had shared about answering all consumer questions and looks like they are doing a pretty good job of it. 

So, to anybody else like me out there, I’d like to remind you that, yes, people lie. But sometimes, people can surprise you. Don’t let the bad convince you that there’s no good. If you ask me, anybody who is even trying to be honest is already doing good.

This article was written for TNM Brand Studio by Tarana Reddy, who is a brand watcher and writes about her life experiences with major brands. 

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