In a famous movie, A Few Good Men, one of the key scenes has one actor asking the other “can you handle the truth?”

And it’s a good question.

Every culture handles truth differently and the US is no exception.

Honestly there are times you don’t tell the truth

People will tell you that honesty and truth telling are important in the US – and they are. But there are also times that you don’t tell the truth in the US.

For instance if someone ask you how you like their cooking the answer is generally going to be that you like it — even if you might not.  It’s one of those times in US culture where the value of the feedback is small and the risk of offense is high.

It also applies in selling situations. There may be times that you, the seller, know that the buyer isn’t telling full truth.  But the cost of letting them know you know they aren’t telling the truth might be very high. In which case you don’t tell them.

Legal consequence

There are often legal consequences to not telling the truth. Many of you know I am lawyer (but not your lawyer and I am not providing you legal advice).

The US legal system has spent a lot of time – and energy – determining what is legal and what isn’t legal in lying. As you get into the US you’ll want to dive in with your lawyer on what you can and can’t say without getting into trouble.

It’s tricky

Americans want the truth – except when they don’t. You’ll need to figure out how to navigate these waters.

It’s not as hard as it sounds. But it will require an awareness, learning and thinking.

The Our Shawn

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