"It's discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit." - NoÃ«l Coward
I've written about the topic of honesty before. This time I'm not going to focus on liars. I'm going to focus on people who avoid telling the truth. They are the bystanders who feel the same way as the person who spoke the truth, but they would never say anything because they are afraid of conflict. They let the truth sayer take the fall.
The fact that they even think being honest is mean is disappointing. Honesty among friends should never be considered mean, rude, or in poor taste. Sure, how the truth is presented is important and sometimes it's not done with enough tact.
Regardless how it is said and how much it stings to hear it, if it's honest, you should always appreciate it because it means they care enough about you to tell you the truth.
You could ask anyone what quality they appreciate in a friend or a partner and one of the top answers will be honesty. Our society is always teaching such things as, honesty is the best policy, and the truth will set you free, but the truth is very few people actually want to hear the truth.
I can agree that there are some situations where telling a falsehood does no harm and does spare someone else from being embarrassed. It's a slippery slope into full lies though. We start with an ingenuous compliment, then next thing we know we are telling doozies that are designed to protect ourselves from taking accountability for a mistake.
The reason very few people tell the truth even when they think they should is because it's hard. People get mad at you when you're honest about something they don't want to know. Thomas Sowell said, "There are only two ways of telling the complete truth - anonymously and posthumously."
I don't see how you can call yourself a friend if you can't be honest. Truth is the foundation of trust, so without it how will you ever know what to believe or who you can really depend on?
If someone prefers to avoid conflict and would rather be phoney so they appear nice, their relationships will always be superficial and fake.
Most people want their friend to agree with them without making any suggestions or recommendations. I don't want friends who only tell me what they think I want to hear, and I don't want friends who only say how they really feel behind my back.
If a friend thinks I'm wrong about something or that I could change something about what I'm doing to make a problematic situation better, I want them to tell me. I might not think they're right at first, but once it sinks in, I'll likely consider it because I trust their opinion.
If you lie to spare someone's feelings or to avoid conflict, either the truth will come out or you'll have to live with being disingenuous. If you tell the truth from the beginning, you will only be dealing with the hurt of the truth. I can get over the sting of being told something that was hard to hear, but I don't think I've ever gotten over being lied to by someone I wanted to trust.
"Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters."
- Albert Einstein
"Nothing in this world is harder than speaking the truth, nothing easier than flattery."
- Fyodor Dostoyevsky
"I meant what I said and I said what I meant."
- Dr. Seuss, Horton Hatches the Egg. Danielle Aldcorn, BSW, MA, is a registered clinical counsellor at Satori Integrative Health Centre. Follow her @drgrahambooks.