What It Takes

What It Takes

I Solemnly Swear to Tell the Whole Truth

By Callie Oettinger | Published: November 3, 2017

In 2006, I was named Time Magazine’s person of the year.

Imagine my surprise—especially since I didn’t find out until three years later, in 2009.

Around the 2009 period, a blogger entered my world like a fly at a picnic. I noticed him circling a few times, then he seemed to be everywhere—and not in a good way—so I checked out his bio. It said he was Time Magazine’s person of the year for 2006.

Dumbstruck, I did some Googling and found that I, too, was person of the year.

Gobsmacked?

You bet.

I was person of the year—and so were you. In fact, we were all person of the year because, in 2006, Time named “You” its person of the year.

I thought it was clever. The blogger told the truth and beefed up his bio in the process.

He created what a lawyer friend of mine referred to as an intentional hole. A lie isn’t stated, but smack dab in the middle of the statement is a hole in the truth, rather than the whole truth. Here’s an example:

When my kids were small, my husband and I decided to bail on Winter’s remaining days and hit a heated indoor waterpark for a weekend with the kids. A few days before we were set to go, Spring made a surprise visit. It was gonna be in the 70s, without a cloud in the sky—and the last thing I wanted was to hang out inside. I called the hotel, explained we might not come, and asked if there was an outdoor pool. The receptionist answered with an affirmative yes, so off we went.

When we arrived, we found the pool doing an impression of a 70’s era California skater’s paradise. No water. Completely drained. But yes, there was an outdoor pool. She hadn’t lied—and I hadn’t thought to ask the follow-up question, “Is there water in the outdoor pool?”

She gave me the hole truth, not the whole truth.

I ran across the hole truth on a pitch the other day, asking Steve to be on a new podcast. At the bottom, the host stated, “Invited guests have included . . . “ and then listed some well known names.

“Invited guests” is different from “guests.”

Just as I thought the blogger clever a few years earlier, I thought the podcast host clever, too. Clever, but bothersome.

It’s tempting to tell the hole truth. Doing so might help you gain attention or make your case, but… It will catch up with you.

Clever doesn’t garner respect. It wins lawsuits, perpetuates lies, and deceives.

Just look at what happened after this cleverly written line was stated, “Cigarette smoking is no more ‘addictive’ than coffee, tea or Twinkies.”

Posted in What It Takes

10 Responses to “I Solemnly Swear to Tell the Whole Truth”

  1. Mary Doyle
    November 3, 2017 at 5:14 am

    I love this post! As a teacher, (retired) family therapist and parent, the “hole” truth has always been on my radar. I love the examples you included here, and you are so right – it will catch up with you. Thanks Callie!

  2. Al Lopez
    November 3, 2017 at 6:25 am

    Hole truths can be good for setups as well. Your post reminded me of this joke.

    A salesman walks up to a store where an old man is sitting with a dog next to him.

    Salesman: “Does your dog bite?”
    Old Man: “Nope”

    The salesman proceeds to approach the door when the dog jumps up and bites him.

    Salesman: “Hey! I thought you said your dog didn’t bit?!”
    Old Man: “That ain’t my dog!”

  3. Carl
    November 3, 2017 at 6:36 am

    I rented the “Splendor Luxury Penthouse” through Airbnb
    the listing should have been “Spartan Austerity Attic”
    Beware of naming half truths.

  4. November 3, 2017 at 7:32 am

    Click bait is social media’s hole truth. Maybe talking in grays and debating the definition of ‘is’ become tools of the amateur but any Pro knows… your word(s) are your bond… and your reputation… priceless. Great post Callie!!

  5. November 3, 2017 at 7:47 am

    Callie,
    Great Post. As irritating as those examples are, I know I would have been hoodwinked by each one. I’m not suspicious enough in my daily dealings to sniff out those types of lies.

    If the podcaster said, “Look, we’ve got a great show. I’ve invited some pretty famous people-but Steve Pressfield would be far and away the most impressive guest to date. My audience is small, but growing…”
    would he have had a chance getting him on the show?

    Black Irish Books would be a terrific podcast BTW…
    bsn

  6. November 3, 2017 at 7:47 am

    So did Steve (and you) pass on the podcast? Or did you discover this “hole” too late? :)

  7. fjr
    November 3, 2017 at 7:47 am

    I am so, so tired of self-serving deceitful claims.

    The late 2010s (and hopefully not too much longer) will go down in history as the era of deceitful claims.

    Will something honest and decent arise from the ashes, or are we going to be stuck down here indefinitely?

  8. Bruce Welton
    November 3, 2017 at 7:54 am

    This was excellent. Thanks.

  9. November 3, 2017 at 11:06 am

    Thanks, Callie.

    I used to believe that telling the “hole” truth wasn’t lying; to my self, I justified it by minimizing the fact that I was simply leaving out certain details. To my mind, it wasn’t lying, and I refused to consider the idea of dishonesty.

    But you are right, Callie, it caught up with me. And I am thankful now.

    At the time, though, it felt shitty, and I was disappointed in myself and even a bit discouraged.

    I am lucky to have amazing friends and family, but still, it was a difficult issue for me to face.

    One of my favorite quotes goes something like: “A lie travels halfway around the world while the truth is still getting its shoes on.”

    The irony is that this quote has often been attributed to Mark Twain, but the jury is still out: https://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/07/13/truth/.

    I am now committed to the whole truth, which feels dangerous at times but also freeing. I guess the truth does set you free (and gets you in trouble once in a while).

    Thanks for your insights!

  10. Julie Murphy
    November 3, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    I love wordplay and this was exceptional! Good one, Callie. Memorable.

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