Someone once asked me “Have you gained weight? You look big.” Another said “I’m just being honest, I don’t like you.” Perhaps you’ve heard someone say “I’m just telling it like it is.” Is honesty always the best policy? Honest or not, these comments reflect lack of a social filter. Knowing when and how to be honest is key to relationship success.
Rotary International balances honesty and relationship success with their Four Way Test of the things we say or do. 1. Is it the truth? 2. Is it fair to all concerned? 3. Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships? 4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
Discern between truth and opinion. Many of our “honest” thoughts are more founded in opinion than fact. For example, you might find someone stupid while others find them reflective. You might find something ugly while others find it creative. You may think someone is demanding while others appreciate their assertiveness.
Brutal honesty has no place in personal relationships. Cruelty often masquerades as honesty. Honesty can wipe out love, affection and trust. On the other hand, open and kind communication will bring about greater understanding and closeness.
There are times when the best course of action is to withhold your thoughts. Not every thought that comes to mind needs to come out of your mouth. And sometimes white lies are kinder than your judgement: “No, that dress doesn’t make your butt look big.”
Honesty is sometimes less important than kindness.