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Louise Elerding: Santa, I told the truth all year

You’ve got manners

Posted: December 9, 2010 10:15 p.m.
Updated: December 10, 2010 4:55 a.m.

No matter your age, whether you’re 3 or 93, there comes a time when we falter and wonder if it’s best to tell the truth or disguise it a bit to save the day.

If you had to tally up the times that you were less than honest in your conversations, what would your “honest response” score be for the year? 

Are you like many individuals who are so worried about hurting someone’s feelings, or feeling self-conscious, that you need to tell a little white or pink lie?

Put those uncomfortable times behind, and embrace the golden rule of honesty: “By using tone and timing, honesty and kindness, you can always speak the truth.”

How many of these situations have you found yourself experiencing?

Have you wanted to explain to your children how important it is to tell the truth — at every intersection of life? 

One marker you can pass on as a self-checkpoint is this: before responding to a circumstance, ask two questions: (1) is my answer the truth? (2) am I showing kindness?

If it’s “yes” to both — then you are doing a good job.

You are entitled to your privacy. You never have to reveal anything that you feel is personal or private. If someone asks you to an event and you don’t care to go, no excuse is necessary.

Golden-rule reply: “Thanks so much for the invitation (in a pleasant tone), but I am not free that evening (honesty). Can we plan something later on? (Kindness).”


Grandma has given you a gift that you do not want or like. Take the spotlight off of you and put it on her sweet efforts.
Golden-rule reply: “Grandma, how dear of you to take the time to go shopping for me (nice tone), and pick out these fluffy socks. You were thinking how cold it’s been this month (honesty). Thanks so much for always being a generous grandparent (kindness).”

When you are a dinner guest and you do not like what is being served, there is no need to make a fuss or be negative about the food.

A simple, “‘No thank you (in a gracious tone), I do not care for any of this now (honesty)” is all you need to say.

No excuses are needed, no grimacing faces, just smile and show kindness.

If someone asks you for information that you feel is none of their business, or that you are embarrassed to discuss, such as a sensitive family matter, personal  finances, or sticky social situations, you always have the personal right to not answer such a question.

Just because it is asked of you, does not mean you must answer.

Golden-rule reply: “I hope you will understand (soft tone), but this is a matter we keep just between immediate family members (honesty). When that changes, I will be happy to share more with you (kindness).”

Being on time is showing consideration to others.

Being late is theft — stealing time, one of the most valuable assets we have.

People try to watch the clock, but life happens. When you are late for an engagement or appointment, there is no need to fabricate what happened — that just takes up more time.

They do not need to hear that the dog got loose, that the line at the coffee shop was long, that there was so much traffic, or that you  overslept.

Be brief and honest.

Golden-rule reply: “I sincerely apologize for being late (sincere tone). I regret holding matters up (honesty). Please let me work quickly to make up for lost time (kindness and consideration).”

When a business or social relationship has come to and end, there is always a way to minimize the hurt.

It serves no purpose to sling mud and tear down another person’s ways.

Avoid listing their flaws or shortcomings. This will resolve nothing — only likely fuel more fire.

Respect the fact that you likely did learn something from this relationship.

Golden-rule reply: “We seem to have a vast difference of opinion here (in a neutral, calm tone), so it’s best we move on (simple honesty). I wish you well (kindness).”

So if you have to answer to Santa, or anyone else at the close of the year — have faith that telling the truth is as easy as giving a simple, honest and kind reply.

The rewards are grand.

Louise Elerding, is a manners, etiquette, and personal appearance coach, and the author of “You’ve Got Manners!” an illustrated series of children’s books.

For information on Table Manners classes held at the Salt Creek Grille in Valencia, or to submit questions for the “Ask Louise”’ column, call (818) 259-3961, e-mail, or vsit


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