Note: Please let me know if this question is off-topic, so it can be closed or deleted. I am afraid that it either focuses too much on Russian culture, or alternatively is asking for a translation.

Background/Context: I often find that, at least when interacting with me as a foreigner, my Russian friends are what I believe to be "too polite" to me. In particular, it is often my impression that they readily say white lies to me because they think that is what I want to hear. Russian culture seems to place a very large importance on "hospitality", and pleasing the guest no matter what seems to fall under the umbrella of the Russian notion of "hospitality".

Regardless of whether or not any of the above is true,

Question: How would could I ask a Russian to "not just say what you think I want to hear" or to "cut the shit" or to "forego white lies"?

The only things I could think of are complicated constructs using unwieldy relative clauses, and which seem like they would most likely be misinterpreted due to me using the wrong word order.


  • Пожалуйста, не скажи мне просто то, что ты думаешь, что я хочу слышать, а правду.
  • Не соври мне дела потому что ты думаешь, что я хочу услышать такие дела.

This link seems to offer some Russian expressions which are similar to the English idiom "white lie", but since they are Russian idioms I don't feel that I know how to use them properly to communicate what I want to say. For example:

  • невинная ложь
  • ложь во спасение
  • мелкая ложь с целью пощадить чьи-либо чувства
  • специально солгать кому-либо, чтобы кого-либо не расстраивать

Would it be possible to give some examples of how to use these expressions idiomatically to convey the sort of meaning stated above?

That is just the linguistic issue. There is also the issue of navigating our different cultural perspectives. To me, the lack of authenticity/authenticity prevents us from getting to know each other and therefore weakens our friendship. But to them, it probably seems like they are being very good hosts, and therefore strengthening the friendship.

  • 3
    I think you should provide a bit of a context in which you're experiencing the incomplete communication. The colloquialisms which you'd be offered plenty here won't help in this case, I feel. Is this a 'world politics' issue? A 'cultural'/'national habits' issue?
    – yury10578
    Commented Jul 8, 2018 at 5:52
  • 1
    Have you considered asking this question on some soft skills/interpersonal forum? I don't think that by using linguistic constructs alone you'll manage to solve the root of your problem no matter how eloquent those constructs would sound. Besides, I have a vague suspicion that cultural differences may not be the only thing at play here.
    – undercat
    Commented Jul 8, 2018 at 17:46
  • @ yury10578 @ undercat haha you are both probably right Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 23:15

3 Answers 3

  • Говори без прикрас (talk without embellishing the facts)
  • Режь правду-матку (say the unembellished, naked truth, it is implied that this truth may hurt and you accept it)
  • Давай по чесноку (informal, plays on the similarity between честно (honest) and чеснок (garlic))
  • По гамбургскому счету (tell something as it is, based on hard facts)
  • These all seem to be very good answers. Since this one seems to have numerically the largest number of expressions, I will accept this one. Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 23:11

"Давай напрямую"/"давай напрямоту" or "говори прямо" are good expressions, literally meaning "Speak directly", "be direct". "Напрямую" can be translated as "straight up". There is also very casual expression "давай по чесноку" where "по чесноку" is a replacement for "по-честному", meaning "let's be honest".


Will add my 5 cents here:

Давай [вот] без этого

literally means "let's [speak] without that". Of course fits only for communication between friends.

[Ой,] давай попроще

or "[oh], let's [speak] simpler" again should be used in very informal situations. And I'd say this one is very colloquial.

Давай без формальностей / Обойдёмся без формальностей

which can be translated as "let's [speak] without formalities / we can do it without formalities" and could be used in a broader range of contexts.

However, these 3 would be used just to tell people to stop being polite and take formalities away. Not sure if that's applicable for white lies.

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