If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of someone’s honesty, you know how much it can hurt. It never has
to be that way.
Perhaps that experience has caused you to be less than honest with others when what you really wanted to do was to tell them the truth. You stopped yourself because you were afraid stating certain facts or sharing your own opinion would hurt their feelings.
There’s no doubt about it, sometimes honesty requires both of you to confront an unpleasant truth, and unpleasant truths can be embarrassing.
Done in the right way, you can minimize the chance of hurting the other person’s feelings. It’s almost always worth the risk because the way to maintain solid relationships is to build them on a foundation of trust.
When you practice honesty consistently, people learn that they can trust you. They know they can rely on you to tell the truth and that when you share something negative or something that is potentially hurtful, you’re doing so because you have respect for them and you value their dignity. Practicing honesty consistently keeps old relationships strong and starts new ones on the right path to becoming long-term ones that you both value.
When I was a little girl, my mother or my grandmother would sometimes admonish me to ‘be sweet.’ My aunt would tell her daughter, ‘don’t be ugly.’ While they were most often referring to our behavior, they also meant for us to consider the words we were using. Were they sweet? Were they ugly?
Compare these two ways of answering the same question. The first one is stated as an ugly fact. The second one is a sweet opinion. How do you react to each?
“Yes, those jeans make your big butt look even bigger.”
“I think those jeans don’t flatter your behind the way a different pair would.”
No matter how great your friendship, no matter how self-assured your friend, no matter how kind your voice, that first one is going to sting. The second one acknowledges the same situation, it is careful to identify your opinion and it shows that you care.
The next time you yearn to be honest with someone about an unpleasant truth or give her your opinion, take a few minutes to make sure your own thoughts are clear, and that your words are chosen for their candor as well as for their sweetness. Separate your opinions from the facts and when you speak, offer your opinion as just that – the way you see things from where you stand.
Life Is Honest, Open and True: Honesty requires courage, tact, and respect as you say things that may make both of you uncomfortable. The payoff to being honest is a reputation for valuing others and relationships that endure.
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Is it okay to lie to spare someone’s feelings? Are words that sound sweet less honest? What’s your opinion? Tell me about it in the comments or tweet me @lifeishotblog with the hash tag #LifeIsHOT!