Difference between lie and politeness?

Today I went to the hairdresser and got my hair cut. After looking at it in the mirror I wasn’t thrilled but I didn’t think it was that bad. The hairdresser asked me if it was alright and I said it was fine, thanks.

Does this count as a lie, and therefore a sin, or just trying to be polite and charitable?

You’ve asked a terrific question. I have often struggled with the morality of the correct answer to the question “Does this dress make me look heavy, dear?”

Hi Lena,

There is no question about “lying”. Still, since this was a paid professional, you would be within your rights to give constructive criticism if you thought there was some specific thing she could have done better. Those things always come off best if the critcism is shared in a matter-of-fact way, and focusing as much as possible on the positives of how improvements can be made. You do not have to offer this criticism if you don’t want to.

When someone does something as a gift or of their own free will, we generally ought to give it “good reviews” as a matter of courtesy, unless there is a specific and compelling reason not to (safety for instance).

God Bless,

Now. imagine that we tell always the supposed truth. I would have so say: “You are as stupid as a donkey”;“You are the ugliest person in the Party” (one of them is!); “I hate you”; “I cant stand your foul breath”; “I slept with your sister” and so on.

Life would be hell and there would be war all over the place. Is this what God wants? Obviously not. Then what is wrong in the reasoning?

Truth is not a value on itself. You must not deceit someone if that is against his well being. If that person is entitled to have certain information, then if I rob him of that information, then I am lying.

But I do not have to answer the questions: “How much do you earn?”; “Are you a virgin?”; “Which are our plans of war?” (reporter to a general…)
and others similar for the person who asks the question is not entitled to know the answer, so I may answer whatever comes to my mind.

Now, if I tell that you look terrible in that dress, if she is my friend, she accepts out of friendship, but if she is not my friend, she will take it as a declaration of war. So the question is not the answer in itself but what the other understands with that answer. So be my response.

As for hairdresser, I paid for the cut, ok? Do I want to teach the hairdresser a lesson so that on future works, she will cut better? Then, I may say something. Do I want to protest? Of course I am entitled to do so, for I paid and i am a customer. Do you accept as it is, given the circumstances, you dont want to star a war, for you want to come back, then you it is OK. And it is, for what you’ve told was this whole sentence. You dont care less ( as I do) and say yes to everything? Yes is the truth and means I could not care less, does not mean “Your job is worth a Nobel prize”.



This really isn’t that complicated. If you walk around saying “Your a doofus.” “Your ugly”. “I hate your mother.” Your going to get punched in the face. If you feel as though you can’t be polite, or you’ll have to “lie” keep your mouth shut and move on.

did you intend to lie with the intent to deceive and cause harm by refusing knowledge of which someone has the right to know? no? then no sin.


I think it might boil down to this common sense term that my old man taught me-“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”.


If you said you were thrilled, that would be a polite lie. Saying only that the result was “fine” was OK, since you didn’t want the job fixed or done over.

There are worse things than polite lies, but most people who ask would really have gently-worded but honest feedback. You can also say, “I’m not sure if I like such and so.” Sometimes, a hairdresser can fix something you’re not wild about.

The first thing to do, though, when someone asks if you like how they look is to make sure that they want to know. You do this by saying, “Forget what I think. How does it make you feel?” The answer will usually tell you whether they want honest feedback or something else. Go with what they’re really asking for.

If someone insists that it is my input they want, I’m for giving the most positive and gentle version of an honest answer. Don’t just give a “yeck”, if possible. List what you like and what you don’t like. Also, keep in mind that the person asking may not have another choice. Rate it not just against the best thing they have, but as if it was “if you have to wear this, just stay home…oh, wait, you can’t stay home, how about a brown bag over your head?” Sometimes, when we’re trying to find something to wear, that is the way it feels. We do well to keep that in mind and put our answers on that scale. You want an answer worded as if they really can’t help but go out in public in this outfit, in case they’re asking not for an opinion, but for courage.

No sin in my opinion.

One way to evaluate situations is to think of positive, neutral, and negative statements.

You could lie by saying it was the best haircut ever and you’ll tell your friends to come here. But knowing it is not and you will not.

You could lie by saying you are terribly disappointed and just may seek to get her license revoked. You were not and would not.

But, wisely, you chose a diplomatic neutral statement, “It’s fine, thanks.” You did not want to hurt her feelings. Fine usually means ‘acceptable.’ Not great, not bad, but OK.

As another said, you could have offered polite constructive criticism at that time. But you could also offer more clear directions the next time you go to her. Or you could just walk away and go to another hair dresser.

We do not have to be totally clear about our feelings or opinions with everybody on every subject especially if we know we could hurt the other person. There is much Catholic teaching about saying as little as possible. (I’m working on that ;))

Love suggests we tolerate each others minor imperfections. It seems to me that you loved appropriately in that encounter.

Technically speaking, even if someone doesn’t have the right to know, it could still be a lie.

See below:


Sounds to me like you weren’t lying at all. You said it was “fine” which I think would be an accurate word to described “not thrilled but didn’t think it was that bad”.

If you plan to go back to that hairdresser, you may get the same cut that you got before if you are not honest about it. There are ways to tell the truth without being brutal. “It is not what I expected, but maybe I’ll like it in a few days gives” you the opportunity to tell the hairdresser the next time you go what you want done differently. Bottom line, I do not think what you did was a sin, because you weren’t being mean or self-serving. You were trying to be kind.

A LIE is a DELIBERATE OBJECTIVE premedited act with the intent to with hold information one is entilted to, or by intent mislead. This example is a SUBJECTIVE and chairatable responce. NO sin.

God Bless you,

Aren’t we to not put ourselves in mortal danger:confused:
Answering such a question as, “Does this dress make me look heavy, dear?”, most certainly puts us in mortal danger. :stuck_out_tongue:

=Quarles47;8140827]Aren’t we to not put ourselves in mortal danger:confused:
Answering such a question as, “Does this dress make me look heavy, dear?”, most certainly puts us in mortal danger. :stuck_out_tongue:

Or at the least effect one s Love life:D

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