Honesty is the bedrock of healthy relationships with others and self-honesty is the foundation for personal growth and a life of integrity. It all seems so simple: we are either honest or we aren’t. There are many situations where it is straightforward to distinguish between honesty and dishonesty. If a clerk gives you too much change for a cash purchase, being honest would be returning the money, being dishonest would be keeping it.
Lies are a form of dishonesty, yet there are times when honesty and truthfulness can be hurtful. If someone is attracted to you and you are not attracted to them, is it best to be honest and tell them you are not attracted to them? We have to think about what purpose it would serve to share unflattering feedback with others and the impact of such sharing on the other person and on the relationship you have with them.
For some people, “honesty is the best policy” applies in certain situations but may feel inappropriate or unwise in other situations. Most of us agree that truthfulness and honesty are critical in our most intimate relationships such as relationships with our best friend or our partner. However, we may have differing opinions about to what extent we want to disclose our personal lives to co-workers or our boss. If a co-worker is pushing the boundary of our personal privacy, some people feel it is OK to tell a “white lie” to protect their privacy. And what about telemarketers that make unsolicited phone calls to our home? Is it OK to tell them someone is at the door even if they are not?
Share your honest thoughts about the following questions:
- Is there a difference between being honest and being truthful?
- Are there times and situations where it is OK not to be completely honest?
- What is the difference between privacy, secrets, and dishonesty? How can you tell which is which?
- What is the difference between being honest and being “brutally honest”?
- Have you met anyone in your life that asked you or just made it clear through their behavior that they do not want you to share everything with them?
- Does honesty always lead to the best outcome?
- Talk about one or more of the experiences in your life that revolve around honesty. Not just the honesty or dishonesty of others toward you but your own honesty or dishonesty with others.