Most people will have experienced a job interview that has required you to come up with three adjectives to describe yourself and most people will have have used three very positive adjectives: 'Conscientious', 'Dependable', 'Devoted'.
It is what we believe the interviewer wants to hear, more tellingly it is want we really want to hear about our ourselves.
Nobody is ever really honest about themselves in those situations, when you are trying to sell yourself, honesty is not important. You only have to look at the profiles on Dating Websites to see this is true. It is hard to believe that so many truly wonderful people have not found love. "Karen works tirelessly for the Save the Dandelion Foundation, she cries at sad films, she has a great sense of humour. Seeks similar."
"Dan likes to give homeless people cuddles, he rescues train station pigeons that have a gammy foot. He has a great sense of humour. Seeks similar."
Isn't it sad that so many people with great senses of humour find themselves laughing alone.
Does honesty work in these situations? It has got to be worth a shot, the problem is that most people are in denial about the worst of their flaws. The most a person might say about themselves is "I suppose I can be a bit grumpy." Nobody would think badly about them, hell we're all a little grumpy at times. What if you asked the person they live with, "Grumpy? No its worse than that. We sit in miserable angry silence because we can't admit to each other that our relationship is failing. I wish it just was grumpiness."
The dreaded opening to any conversation, a line that strikes fear into every one of us. "You know what your problem is?"
Oh dear, this could get confrontational. They might have realised that I'm a terrible gossip and a shit stirrer. I'm going to have to think of a way to dispose of their body, I'm not ready to admit that I am what they say I am.
Deep, deep down we all know what are failings are but that is where we like to keep them. Deep, deep down we also know that those close to us know exactly what those failings are and we are resentful of that fact. We would all fear psychological assessment, to have every one of our flaws pulled to the surface and put on display so everyone knows what a terrible person we really are deep, deep down.
Are we ready to be honest about ourselves? No.
There is too much at stake, telling the truth will not get you the job or find you a date online.
Use three adjectives to describe yourself, 'Belligerent' 'Deceitful' 'Intolerant'
"I'm sorry but I have just remembered that the job has already been taken."
"Karen is lazy, capricious and angry. Her house smells because she cannot be bothered to clean it, she suffers from weird mood swings and tends to lash out at those close to her. Seeks similar."
"Dan is miserly, narrow minded and possessive. He'll use the same tea bag five times and refuses to pay for somebody else on a date. He doesn't like foreigners and when in a relationship he will want to know your exact whereabouts at all times. Seeks similar."
Karen and Dan are still single.
Mick Ferry Has Been Found Wanting is at the Balcony, Gilded Balloon Edinburgh Fringe 31 July to 25 August at 18:15