I have a 30 minute lunch break every day at work.  And during that lunch break, all I want to do is eat, check email and Facebook on my iPhone, and enjoy the silence.  When you work with 5-year-olds, silence is a rare commodity.  After a morning filled with whining and tattling and your name repeated over and over and over again, 30 minutes of silence is as rejuvinating as a cold Gatorade after an 8 mile run.

So you can imagine my frustration at having to share those precious 30 minutes with a co-worker who is almost as whiny as those 5-year-olds.  She complains, she whines, she lacks the filter that connects her brain with her mouth, and as I learned the other day, she is incapable of the little white lie. 

I’m not a big fan of liars.  But I do believe in the importance of the appropriate use of the little white lie.  When a minor untruth or an omission of the truth can spare one’s feelings, I don’t see the harm in applying that little white lie when necessary.  Case in point, my conversation with Filter-less Co-Worker.

She was going on and on about scheduling an appointment with her doctor for bloodwork, and when she paused to see if I was listening, I regrettably chose to fill the awkward silence by confiding that I had just put in a call to my own doctor to request bloodwork.

“Why?  What’s wrong?”  Hmm, I thought maybe she was expressing genuine concern.  So I continued.

I told her about some of my random body issues, including weight gain. 

“Yeah, I wasn’t gonna say anything, but I’ve noticed you’ve really gained weight.”  I looked up from my sandwich, my jaw practically on the floor.  Did she just say that?!  Did she just violate the female code of common courtesy by telling me that I have indeed gained weight?!

Here I am, telling this woman that I’m concerned enough about my weight that I’m booking an appointment to see a doctor.  I’m clearly aware that I’ve put on weight.  I’m clearly already bothered by it.  I don’t need her confirming my fears that my weight gain is substantial enough that it’s noticeable to other people.  This would have been the perfect opportunity to open mouth and insert little white lie.

But she didn’t stop there.

“Yeah, you talk about all this running that you’re doing.  I keep wondering why you’re not trimmer.”  My blood pressure spiked.  But I continued to bite my tongue. 

But she still didn’t stop.

“Isn’t that bad for your heart?  Carrying all that extra weight while you’re running all those miles?”

Seriously?!  I need to shed about 10 pounds, not 100.  At this point, I found a way to change the subject before I either burst into tears or punched her in the face. 

I’ve been thinking about that exchange for days now, and I still can’t come up with a reason why this woman chose to say those things.  Her comments didn’t help me in any way, they didn’t bring any insight to my health concerns, and they certainly didn’t make me feel better.  Why couldn’t she have told a little white lie?  Or simply executed a white lie of omission by keeping her mouth shut?

Yes, I’m a believer in the little white lie.  I believe in sparing people’s feelings, especially when there’s no good reason not to.  And I believe I might start eating my lunch in my car.

Do you believe in the little white lie?  Do you think it’s ok to lie or omit the truth to spare someone’s feelings? 

9 Comments on The Little White Lie: Apply When Necessary

  1. Not sure if I believe in the white lie, but keeping your mouth shut is always a good plan. lol. God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason!!

    I think she may have felt the need to use that as an opportunity to knock you down to build herself up… women are just bitchy. I do not live like that, but some women do. Its sad really.

  2. Oh. My. Gosh. I just…I just…wow. I remember when SoldierMan came home from Basic, one of the first things his mother said to him was, "Wow, SoldierMan, your hair sure looks like it's getting thinner on top." So I said, loudly, "Gee, SIL, you've gained weight recently." And she replied equally loud, "Gee, thanks for noticing! I was hoping someone would!" MIL looked at us wide-eyed and said, "Oh, am I not supposed to say something like that? Well, how am I supposed to know these things???" (Yes, it's par for the course, and why I can never really relax in her presence. Even when she means well…)

    I believe the proverb that says, "No rotten talk should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need…" Sometimes that means telling them a hard truth, sometimes it means letting moments like the one you describe slip by and just say, "Gee, hope everything is okay."

    But clearly, common sense is anything but common.

  3. ::picks jaw up off floor::

    Wow. Just wow. That didn't even require a little white lie. She coulda just kept her trap firmly shut.

    I'd sit in my car before I'd expose myself to that kind of toxicity. My ego is waaaay too fragile for that type.

    It's a lot easier to lose a (very) few pounds than it is to get a personality transplant. Just sayin'…. I'm so very sorry to hear that someone would deliberately cause pain to you in that way.

  4. I believe in the little white lie when it's to spare someone's feelings, or help them mind their own business when the clearly don't know how. I employ the little white lie when acquaintances or strangers want to discuss my lack of children. A lot.

    I think she said those things because they made HER feel better. If she tells herself you're doing harm to yourself by running, it's ok for her to not run. If she tells herself that you can run a lot and still gain weight, so what's the point? Then it's ok for her to not run. And by voicing these thoughts to you outloud, she's confirming herself as the 'right' one, and making convincing herself she's better. It has NOTHING to do with you. And everything to do with her.

    I think you're awesome. And I hope your doc appt provides insight into an easily solved problem. Good luck!

  5. Um, wow…if she had made a little comment and then put her foot in her mouth, that could be forgivable, but to go on like that? Wow, where's the tact?

  6. Oh. My. Heavens. Wow, I think I'm speechless. I would have smacked her. What would ever make a person say anything like that?! She's jealous would be the only thing I could think would make her feel the need to speak her mind like that. It sounds like you handled it way better than I would have, but I would certainly not eat with her again if possible. I definitely think the little white lie or omission is acceptable in times like this. If is spares someone's feelings and is harmless then there is nothing wrong with it. I'm sorry this happened!

  7. Didn't our Moms always tell us…"If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all?" I guess your colleague must have missed that lesson. I think I'd find another lunch spot; that will speak volumes. So sorry that happened.

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