On Being Earnest

I was once described in a meeting as being earnest and realised instantly that it was probably not a compliment. I have thought about this from time to time but today I want to respond.

So what do dictionaries define as earnest?

  1. sincere, solemn, characterised by a firm and humourless belief in the validity of your opinions, concerned with work or important matters rather than play or trivialities, open and genuine; not deceitful, serving as or indicating the existence of a purpose or goal e.g. “both sides were deeply in earnest, even passionate.”(https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/earnest)
  2. serious in intention, purpose, or effort; sincerely zealous: an earnest worker. showing depth and sincerity of feeling: earnest words; an earnest entreaty. seriously important; demanding or receiving serious attention. (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/earnest)
  3. serious and intense; not joking or playful; sincere, ardent (http://www.yourdictionary.com/earnest)

Yep.  It was a rebuke compliment. My response, although I have to admit that my timing isn’t great:




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