Let me lie to you: The truths about Vienna

Has anyone ever asked you during conversation, “May I be honest with you?” Is this making the assumption that if they don’t ask, their message will be dishonest?

This week I have learned the lesson of transparency in one of the most stunning settings I’ve ever experienced, Vienna, Austria. Every time I have the opportunity to travel I do my best to learn as many things about the local culture as possible. What I’ve seen here is that there is no reason to “lie” to anyone about anything, and the truth appears to be generally shared without apology. 

At a local restaurant, the owner came to greet our party after a major delay in receiving our entrees to say, “I did not think it was going to be busy tonight and chose not to staff the hotel fully with servers. It is not typically how we would operate.” He then proceeded to offer an incredible complimentary dessert of chocolate frozen water with pumpkin seed oil for the entire group. He did not make excuses nor did he actually say he was sorry, but made up for everything with his honesty.

I heard another story in which a tourist walked into a custom tailor shop to be told, “I’m happy that you came in to say hello, but I don’t have anything to sell to you.” The store only took customer orders by appointment. No pressure, no lying, just upfront, polite honesty.

While I head back to the States shortly, I will always have an appreciation for this city and for the people. It is very possible to do business in a truthful, calm, polite and respectful way regardless of the situation.  

Have you encountered a situation in which direct honesty was truly the best policy?