Archive | August 2010

If honesty is the best policy, why do so few people tell others the truth?

**Disclaimer: this will be longer than most of my posts, but I think you will find  it  interesting and thought provoking. **

This has been a prevailing thought for the past week or so.  I have always had an issue with honesty and most people’s lack of it.  There is a fine line with honesty.  Some people interpret honesty as meanness.  Some people are deceitful so frequently that they do not know how to tell the truth.

I did not want this blog to be solely my musings on the subject.   Thus I posed the question to my Twitter followers as well as my Facebook friends.   Below are some of the answers I received followed by my commentary.  What I found most interesting about my “research” for this blog is how few people were even willing to discuss the issue of dis/honesty.

“Fear that the other person’s reaction will be dramatic or a situation may change.”

I think this response probably was referring to a romantic relationship.  The implication is that you have already done something that the person will not agree with/like.  So when they ask you about it, you are dishonest in your answer?  What sense does that make?  The relationship that you are attempting to build or living in is based on a foundation of untruth.  You can’t be in a relationship that is healthy and growing where you are afraid that telling the truth will change the situation.  Honesty is required.  IF you are honestly doing something that would be totally offensive to that person then I ask if you really value that relationship anyway.  Why should the other party trust you if you can’t be honest?

“People are motivated by self interests and honesty also is revealing and people are guarded and (adverse) to being vulnerable.”

I love this answer and think it may be the most prevalent reason people are less than honest.  Many of us live our lives in “all about self” mode.  We want to do what we want to do when and how we want to do it and we don’t want any questions or flack about it.   Thus we say whatever is required to get us to that end.

Sadly, there are a number of others who are very psychologically and emotionally damaged.  Because of this, they have erected barriers that are designed to prevent others from getting too close to them.   It is true that these people sometimes feel that expressing a deep level of honesty allows people to “see” too much of them and exposes them to potentially further pain.  Thus, the inclination is to skirt around the truth for their own self-protection.  Sadly, I think that by being unwilling to let others in these individuals are actually encouraging the cycle of hurt to continue.  The only thing that truly heals hurt and pain is love.  You have to be willing to let it in.

“I believe that MANY people feel that if they are honest they may hurt the other’s feelings, not realizing that the dishonesty, when it call comes out, and it will…is far more destructive.”

I could not have said this one better myself.  Many people claim to lie to others to save that parties feelings.  How are you sparing my feelings by lying to me?  I actually have had this discussion with the composer of this response in reference to dating.  They (generic to protect the guilty lol) stated that they did not want to tell a certain member of the opposite sex that they weren’t attracted to them and didn’t want to date them.  Now I understand the concept of not being cruel, but my question is how you are you being nice to someone by pretending to be attracted to them when you aren’t? What is nice about that?  You are not allowing the relationship to go anywhere so I content that this is in actuality much more mean than actually telling them the truth.   Once they learn the truth, and they will, they are crushed by your deceit.

“Sometimes the truth hurts.  Some people can’t handle the truth.  You don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. You need to boost someone up so you tell them what they need to hear. There are numerous reasons. I want to be told the truth always in spite of what it is. Accept it and move on!”

This comment is actually very similar to the one above so I will let this comment stand alone in conjunction with my previous comment.

“It’s easier to lie MOST of the time, and most people like the easy route in life.”

This response actually saddened me a bit.  To learn that for some it is EASIER  to lie?  I don’t want to believe that this true.  How is it easier to lie?  It takes a lot more effort to keep up with the lies you have told because they are not the truth.  I would think if you just answer with whatever comes out easiest you are not being a very genuine person.  For some I guess this works as there are people who subscribe to this theory.  For me, I’d rather keep it real.

Now what I think the writer was implying is that it is “easier” to deal with another party by sometimes being deceitful.  If you know that the truth is not what the person wants to hear then why tell it?  My answer would still be why do it if you can’t talk about and sometimes the truth needs to be told.  “Does this dress look okay?”  Sweetheart I think this dress would look a little better.  That one is tugging at the sides.  (See you don’t have to say “you know that dress is a size smaller than you are.”  The truth can be told in a palatable manner.)

I in no way advocate opening your mouth and letting it rip.  Yes, it is important that we as compassionate people temper our statements to our  audience.  I guess I just don’t understand why in doing this we must be dishonest.  For the record (and I’m just speaking for me here) I will never ask you a question that I don’t want to hear the answer to.  I am not saying that I will like the answer and I’m not promising that I won’t argue the point.  But trust that I do want to hear your point, and even if I argue it some of your wisdom will be absorbed.

Let’s try to do better.  Let’s be better for and to one another by being more honest.  No not mean.  No not hurtful and no not deceitful; but honest nonetheless.  We would have far less trust issues, relationship issues and dare I say familial issues if we would just be a little more honest.

Spread love…peace and blessings.