Is Honesty ALWAYS The Best Policy?

5 Times when honesty may hurt rather than help…. And How to Recognize Them Quickly

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I have always considered myself an honest person. Sure, I’ve lied a few times here and there, whether out of willful knowledge or from simply leaving out all the facts. However, there is a need for honest communication and honest actions in the world today, beginning with honesty.

Unfortunately, there are times where being honest may end with negative results. Natural consequences are among the best way to learn, creating a negative environment, isn’t.

Full disclosure = permanent closure

When we are brutally honest with people, we may end up severing a relationship, a business partnership, or even a client or customer.

Now, while I am not and would never advocate for lying, here are five (5) situations where being honest may create more harm than help…

  1. Being around toxic people
  2. When someone is sharing a new idea or concept
  3. When you don’t want to share
  4. When there is no time for change
  5. Panic, stress, spite

Toxic people will destroy a good time in about three seconds. Sharing honest opinions, thoughts, situations, circumstances will give a toxic person arsenal to use against you at some point. When faces with presenting the truth around a toxic person, it is best to say as little as possible.

We have all had those moments of a-ha where we have the best new idea, and we want to share that new idea with others. Some of those new ideas or concepts when we hear them are amazing, to the point where we say to ourselves ‘why didn’t I think of that’ and we are immediately on board.

Other times we hear a new idea or concept, and we think ‘what the heck are they thinking’ which is usually followed up by the person asking us “what do you think?” Here is where it would be better to say something like “good luck on that endeavor” or “you’re probably the only person who can make that happen’ rather than something negative and squash the momentum and emotions of another.

Sometimes in certain circles, we just don’t want to share what’s going on in our lives, and that’s ok. Our life does not need to be an open book for everyone. Creating boundaries are good. Yet, there are times when we simply say “I’m fine” even though we know we are not. Reading the room is a strong skill to curate.

On the other hand, stating the truth can be a form of self-indulgent behavior and if we are honest with ourselves, we would talk less and perhaps smile more. 

Now, there are times when someone asks a question and needs an answer, however that answer requires change and there may simply not be enough time for that change to take place before an action needs to happen. Rather than being brutally honest, we default to not being completely honest (omissions) to the person, primarily because of the effects that may come, which leads us into the fifth reason…

Panic, stress, and strife. If being honest will create a situation where someone may panic and the end result of THAT may start a domino effect, perhaps its not the right time. Stress and panic lead us to do things we wouldn’t normally do or think in ways that are unhealthy for us to think, and again, should be avoided until a better, more appropriate time is found.

Strife can occur internally with ourselves, or externally with another person.  Here again if delivering truth will create strife, perhaps its not the right time to engage.

Anger is never a primary emotion

How To Handle Not Being Honest

The bottom line is really around situations and circumstances. First off, to handle a potential dishonest situation, one must know their own feelings. This leads into understanding tact and timing. Just because something is true doesn’t mean it needs to be said, or at least said at that immediate time.

When walking the line of asking yourself ‘do I need to be honest here’ is to be vulnerable yourself and to be able to be open to whatever response comes your way when you do speak the truth.

Timing is everything. A right word at the wrong time will create hostility whereas a right word at the right time will bring truth, transparency, and tenacity to you and to others around you.

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