Honesty is the cruelest game of all, because not only can you hurt someone; and hurt them to the bone; you can feel self- righteous about it at the same time. Dave Van Ronk (Ronk).
Judging by the intensity of the message, people have different reactions to honesty. Nobody wants to be hurt especially by those close to them. Reactions to honesty are unpredictable depending on the nature of the person and the message being disclosed. Most people lie to avoid hurting other people, to avoid altering the state of an existing relationship, to avoid losing trust, to flatter people while others lie to get what they want. The level at which an individual lies to another person depends on the kind of relationship they have. It would be expected that the closer two people are, the more open and honest they are with each other. On the contrary, we find that we lie the most to those who are closest to us.
This view makes it easy to ask this: why should we tell the truth if it will only get us into trouble? Lying is more stressful than telling the truth because a lie needs consistency, accuracy and more lies to cover the initial lie. Lying also causes irreversible damage to the relationship when caught and people find themselves entangled in the web of not getting caught. The truth also eventually comes out. Therefore, I advocate for honesty.
The best way to avoid irreversible damage to close relationships is by being creative and smart about being honest. There is a 4C test which can be used in making people be creative about being truthful. The four Cs are clarity, consideration, cleanliness and contribution. First and foremost, people should understand that the truth is not a universal concept and individuals have their own personal interpretations about honesty. Therefore, individuals should be considerate towards the views of others. Secondly, individuals need to be clear about the truth. Being clear entails being specific about the exact message you want to put across and putting it in a decent way.
Thirdly, it is important to keep the communication clean. Keeping it clean means distinguishing the difference between speaking out to be heard and speaking out to make a difference. If the truth is intended for a good purpose, which it should, or else it becomes malicious, then an individual should strive to make a difference with the truth. Find a way to bring the logic to light and make the other person understand the issue. After that, both people should find a way to solve the problem mutually other than being emotional about it.
The final C to consider is "contribution". Just like the other instances the truth should be used to make a difference and not to prove a point. Contribution entails having an authentic message and intention. It is important to avoid diluting the message by softening it up to cushion the blow or impact of the words. Proving a point gives a person a sense of superiority while the other person may feel ashamed or degraded.
I have learnt to be smart about telling the truth because I experienced loss of friendship by being dishonest. Through this loss, I learnt that the impact of one lie is greater than that of a thousand truths after telling a lie.
Ronk, Dave Van. Brainy Quotes. 1971. internet. September 2015.
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