Honesty, Yeah That’s an Action Word, Too

When it comes to honesty, Lisa Hickey would rather ignore words and focus on actions.

I’m a big believer that part of the reason that men don’t “talk about their feelings” is because, in their mind, a feeling is not an action. A feeling is this squishy thing which can barely be described, or worse, it’s an emotion, which has become its own slur: “Don’t call me emo.” Actions are concrete – they are done, or not done, when an action is taken, you know where you stand.

When we talk about honesty, truth and lies, we’re almost always talking about the words. And I’m always amazed at people who scour stories, looking for the one paragraph, the one sentence, the one word that isn’t true. And then calling the other person a “liar” because of that one word.


I remember once I was having an argument with someone and said, “I hate when arguments are about words.” And someone else said: “There’s a school of thought that says all arguments are about words.”

I get tired of arguing over words.


I try to live my life according to the doctor’s creed of “first, do no harm.” ACT in a way that comes from a point of truth. Then words won’t matter as much.

  • If you cheat on your husband or wife, it is the action of infidelity which is the lie – not the way you explain it, or withhold information, or justify it to yourself.
  • If you tell someone you will pay them money, and you don’t, it is the action of refusing to pay that is the lie.
  • If someone asks you how they look, it is the action of loving them that is important, not the way you try to dance around the issue with words.
  • If you enter into a relationship with someone – marriage, doctor/patient, business associates, politicians/constituency – and the basis of that relationship is to trust that the other person won’t cause you harm, it is the act of harm that is the lie.

The words are just ways to explain your actions.


I’d rather have a good action, any day, then a word that was 100%, inarguably the truth.

Photo by: kreetube / flickr


On Honesty:

The Paradox of Male Honesty

Tom Matlack hosts a Socratic Roundtable on Honesty with Joel Stein, Amanda Marcotte, Tom Miller, Dan Barrett and Todd Mauldin.

Ask an Honest Question, get an Honest Answer

Cameron Conaway’s fiancee asks him “How often do other women give you a bone?”

Honesty. Yeah, That’s an Action Word, Too.

When it comes to honesty, Lisa Hickey would rather ignore words and focus on actions.

The Curse of the Reformed Liar

A poem by Jack Varnell

About Lisa Hickey

Lisa Hickey is CEO of Good Men Media Inc. and publisher of the Good Men Project. "I like to create things that capture the imagination of the general public and become part of the popular culture for years to come." Connect with her on Twitter.


  1. I disagree. Lying is an action of its own. Lying may be less serious than other ways people harm each other, but it can hurt people too.

    Many people who have been cheated on talk about how what hurt them the most was the lying afterwards. They could understand why someone would be sexually unfaithful, but not why they would lie about it. Lying can make people feel like they are crazy. It destroys trust and love. It is much easier to imagine forgiving someone who immediately owned up than someone who added lies to the situation. Sometimes lying about an affair is a way to go on having it.

    Similarly, if you can’t pay money you’ve promised, telling the person you’re having problems before the money is due is better than pretending you’re about to pay after the due date. If you make a medical/business/political decision that harms someone and then lie about it, the lie adds more harm and makes the person you lie to angrier.

  2. anonymoose says:

    Yes, let’s not worry your pretty little head about having to actually think about what you say before you open your mouth. Or is this just throwing a distraction about being caught in a lie once too often?

  3. In my experience, men don’t talk about their feelings/emotions because men don’t talk about their feelings/emotions; and when we were boys we didn’t learn what emotions were allowed to be talked about by MEN. Hence, a crazy cycle of unknowing. Oh, I forgot, men sure as heck DO talk about how angry they feel, and WHAT that anger is inviting them to do to. ‘Why I’d like to knock his….’ Let’s be fair and not pretend this emotional minefield wasn’t there when we were kids. In our (boy-to-men) minds, feelings (especially the squishy ones) are associated with our moms, girls, and everything feminine. We were just interested in getting around their feelings so more ACTION could commence! Once an adult, women-who had an abundance of ‘teachers’ about emotions since they could crawl-expect us to be on par, and when were not, pick on us like school-yard bullies: ‘Nah nah, you don’t know what love is…’ A maxim: Children Learn What They Live’ holds very true in this case IMHonestO.

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      When thinking about this post, the word “Action Hero” kept coming to mind. I think it’s fine to acknowledge that sometimes “feelings” make you want to act a certain way. If I’m angry, I want to lash out. But I’ve never found that talking about that feeling actually helped. What I found was to use that energy in some unexpected, positive way — for good, not bad — is a much better choice.

      I’m all for action. Be an Action Hero, one with integrity, and I’m with you all the way.

  4. Roger Durham says:

    With you, Lisa – honesty – integrity – congruence. It’s all about “living believably”. And I’m with that!

  5. I’m with you on that; honesty is all about what you do. “Do what you say, say what you do”.

    This is why integrity is, to me, such a crucial value.


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